Travel

Driving in Italy?

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  • Mar 21st, 2018 11:56 am
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[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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Driving in Italy?

HI all im going to italy in a few months and im trying to figure out the best way to plan this..

our general plan is to fly into rome, grab a rental car, drive out to florence and spend a few days there.
After florence, we want to drive down to Amalfi coast, park the car probably in Amalfi, or Positano and do the whole tourist thing.
From Amlfi we will drive over to Bari on the east coast of italy.
and from Bari we drive back to rome and then stay in rome for the last efw days of our journy. retrun the car when we get to rome bceause we cant use it in rome anyway.

Ive debated a few issues with my plan:
1) car rental is cheap to rent for 3 weeks.. However i hear parking in Amalfi is a pain in the buttt. My plan is to drive to the hotel in Amalfi and park the car and probably not use it... the lost money of not using the car is not that big of a deal because the amount of cash I save renting it for 3 week makes up for the cost of say taking a train from Florence to Naples(or Salerno) and then getting a taxi or hiring a driver to take us to Amalfi.. hiring a driver to take us from a train station is upwards of 100 euro.. + train tickets another 140 euro for 2 people.. I'm already 240 euro in... Renting the car for 3 weeks is costing me $800 CAD... of course diesel and parking costs will add up.. but I will be amalfi for 5 days tops. Even at $20 euro a day, thats $100 euro in parking... s... but at least I have a car to drive at any point of my trip.. I dont think parking will be expensive at my hotels in florence and or Bari... regardless we want a vehcile for florence to see the country side.. and we also need a vehicle for bari.

2) I hear the driving in Amalfi is crazy/nuts. I looked at some utube vidoes and it's not impossible. Im not so worried about the drive/tightness, cliffs so much.. but is it really that impossible for us? Has anyone on RFD done it? I would be renting an automatic because my manual skills are not quite there to deal with really right ups and downs.

3) Driving to Bari from Amalfi is about 3 to 4 hours... The highway system seems pretty good and fast. Any tips for driving in Italy?

But now the other option that I thought was this
1- land in rome
2- rent car from airport drive to florence.
3 - setup rental to drop car off in flroence if possible... or have to drive it back to rome.
4- take train from flroence to Naples or Salerno (unsure which)
5 - hire driver from train station to take us to Amalfi or Posietano.
6 - get around amalfi coast via taxi/bus/hire/and ferry.
7 - get driver to take to Salerno, or get car rental in Amalfi coast area that will allow me to drop off car in Rome.
8- drive Amalfi to Bari
9- driver Bari to rome, drop off car.

I'm not sure which way is best. cash wise seems car rental comes out a head.. but I jut dont know how bad the driving is in italy.
Last edited by daivey on Feb 8th, 2018 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Title edit
36 replies
Deal Guru
May 29, 2006
10281 posts
2879 upvotes
would taking the train from rome to florance make more sense? and picking up a car in Florence? I have never been but we are going in the fall, we are taking trains everywhere but we are sticking to rome/Florence/venice.
Sr. Member
Nov 3, 2002
972 posts
93 upvotes
decide where you actually need the car.
i.e. to drive around tuscany, amalfi, bari.
Only have the car then.

don't use it to get between cities. Not worth if for a couple of people.
The hassles of driving in any of the big cities (just to get in and out are not worth it)
Parking at hotels in city centre will be an issue.

I can almost gaurantee that you will get a ticket for driving in a restricted area, especially in florence.
Of the 4-5 people I know that drove into or out of florence almost all got a ticket including myself.
That's about $200 euro.

Driving in italy on the autostrada's and countryside is pretty easy.
But taking the trains is also very easy and convenient in terms of seeing the city centres.
Deal Addict
Sep 14, 2005
1418 posts
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I would suggest flying over train over driving unless you really enjoy driving.
flying is very cheap in Europe, you may wanna consider that
Deal Expert
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May 10, 2005
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Ottawa
I did business in Italy for nearly 10 years and have been there many times on vacation with my family. I drive only when I have to. My suggestion to you is to drive as little as possible.
The signage on the highways and roads is truncated because the names of villages are often every long and you can easily miss where you are going. Even with a GPS, it is not so easy because the roads and streets are often barely a block long and so many small streets,
Parking in towns and villages is hard to find, expensive and in many places not even allowed. In Florence for instance, you cannot park in the inner core and hotel parking is very often a long way form the hotel. Parking at hotels can easily be 30 euros and up per night. And in parking lots expect 20 euros and up.
Are you staying in Amalfi (the village) or going to the Amallfi coast? The road is very narrow, often you need to back up if there is no one behind you. Do not drive the road on a weekend or when there are cruise ships in Naples....buses have right of way and take up the whole road.
Naples (as opposed to Amalf, Salerno or Sorento) to Bari is a short drive but there is not much to see along the way. Other than the Amalfi coast, there is not much in that part of Italy. Plus, it is not very touristy so not everyone speaks or understands English.
While driving through Italy, you may think you get to see a lot but in fact, you will be spending much of your time looking at signage and figuring out where to go.
Chances are that your credit card insurance is not valid in Italy and, if you have it on you personal insurance it probably will not be valid in Italy either and insurance costs more than the rental car. Oh and automatics cost a lot more too. Oh and, drop off charges can be high too.
All drivers in Italy, even the old Nonas, are race car drivers. They do not care about the white lines and the road is theirs...all of it :).
My suggestion to you is to take trains and if you do want to drive into the country side, rent the car there. In Florence, get a daily to drive into Tuscany.
Oh and someone mentioned flying....no. The smaller airports that service where you wan tto visit are way ou tof tow. Spend more time getting to and from airlports, waiting time and flying . On a train you would almost be at destination already compared to flying.
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
8003 posts
3989 upvotes
Toronto
Pete_Coach wrote: I did business in Italy for nearly 10 years and have been there many times on vacation with my family. I drive only when I have to. My suggestion to you is to drive as little as possible.
The signage on the highways and roads is truncated because the names of villages are often every long and you can easily miss where you are going. Even with a GPS, it is not so easy because the roads and streets are often barely a block long and so many small streets,
Parking in towns and villages is hard to find, expensive and in many places not even allowed. In Florence for instance, you cannot park in the inner core and hotel parking is very often a long way form the hotel. Parking at hotels can easily be 30 euros and up per night. And in parking lots expect 20 euros and up.
Are you staying in Amalfi (the village) or going to the Amallfi coast? The road is very narrow, often you need to back up if there is no one behind you. Do not drive the road on a weekend or when there are cruise ships in Naples....buses have right of way and take up the whole road.
Naples (as opposed to Amalf, Salerno or Sorento) to Bari is a short drive but there is not much to see along the way. Other than the Amalfi coast, there is not much in that part of Italy. Plus, it is not very touristy so not everyone speaks or understands English.
While driving through Italy, you may think you get to see a lot but in fact, you will be spending much of your time looking at signage and figuring out where to go.
Chances are that your credit card insurance is not valid in Italy and, if you have it on you personal insurance it probably will not be valid in Italy either and insurance costs more than the rental car. Oh and automatics cost a lot more too. Oh and, drop off charges can be high too.
All drivers in Italy, even the old Nonas, are race car drivers. They do not care about the white lines and the road is theirs...all of it :).
My suggestion to you is to take trains and if you do want to drive into the country side, rent the car there. In Florence, get a daily to drive into Tuscany.
Oh and someone mentioned flying....no. The smaller airports that service where you wan tto visit are way ou tof tow. Spend more time getting to and from airlports, waiting time and flying . On a train you would almost be at destination already compared to flying.
wow didn't know the insurance coverage doesn't exist. thanks for that. just checked amex platinum and dont think its covered. shit.. that puts a dent in some plans.
Deal Expert
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May 10, 2005
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daivey wrote: wow didn't know the insurance coverage doesn't exist. thanks for that. just checked amex platinum and dont think its covered. shit.. that puts a dent in some plans.
I don't mean it doesn't exist, just saying some credit card companies will not cover you in Italy....The accident rates are just too high plus Italy has been known to scam renters (happened to me and several of my colleagues).
It is not just Italy. Credit card companies have exceptions to their rental insurance for many different countries and even cities within countries. As does your additional insurances on your personal car insurance. It is best to check before you rent.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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Toronto
Pete_Coach wrote: I don't mean it doesn't exist, just saying some credit card companies will not cover you in Italy....The accident rates are just too high plus Italy has been known to scam renters (happened to me and several of my colleagues).
It is not just Italy. Credit card companies have exceptions to their rental insurance for many different countries and even cities within countries. As does your additional insurances on your personal car insurance. It is best to check before you rent.
how did u get scammed?
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May 10, 2005
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daivey wrote: how did u get scammed?
We were a large group in Milan on business. A number of us rented vehicles. About 3 months after that trip 4 of us got credit card charges ranging from $600 to over $1000 for damage to the cars. I only realized that it was a number of us when I mentioned at work I had these charges and then others said the same thing. We then called the credit card company to have the charges removed and they did. In the end, the rental agency at Malpensa airport had done this many times and most people just paid as the bill was fairly small ($200 to $400) and ht cost of fighting it was not worth it but, because it was 4 of us at the exact same day, the credit card company investigated and discovered there was a big problem (It was Budget).
Fortunately, I have always been in the habit of taking before and after photos of my rentals and when I told Budget that, they said the damage was under the car...hence the CC company went into investigative mode. My company took Budget Italy off its approved list as a result.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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Toronto
ok so I think i've got some of my trip better planned.


Ive researched Florence quite a bit now. I'm confident in the drive to Florence, BUT I don't like the parking situation. I will be staying near the train station... and parking at or around the train station is about 20 EURO per day. that will end up costing me about 100 EURO IN PARKING.
Traing to florence, ONE WAY will be about $140 euro for both of us, and no driving.

So plan is to TAKE THE TRAIN to Florence. If we need a car for the day, just rent it for the day.

Then get a rental as a one way get it in Florence, and drop it off at Rome airport on our departure date.
The plan is to have the rental for about 2 weeks. We will drive to Amalfi from Florence, and then from Amamlfi to Galipoli and Frecce most likely.
our hotel in amalfi has parking reserved for us.

this seems to be the best of both worlds. I avoid driving through florence/dealing with ZTL and crazy bus lanes. still thinking about other options though. train from Florence to Salerno is about 100 euro for both of us...... that's a 4 hour train ride.... then probably another hour or so to amalfi if i rent a car in salerno.
its about a 6 hour car ride from florence to amalfi - right into amalfi where we are staying.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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daivey wrote: ok so I think i've got some of my trip better planned.


Ive researched Florence quite a bit now. I'm confident in the drive to Florence, BUT I don't like the parking situation. I will be staying near the train station... and parking at or around the train station is about 20 EURO per day. that will end up costing me about 100 EURO IN PARKING.
Traing to florence, ONE WAY will be about $140 euro for both of us, and no driving.

So plan is to TAKE THE TRAIN to Florence. If we need a car for the day, just rent it for the day.

Then get a rental as a one way get it in Florence, and drop it off at Rome airport on our departure date.
The plan is to have the rental for about 2 weeks. We will drive to Amalfi from Florence, and then from Amamlfi to Galipoli and Frecce most likely.
our hotel in amalfi has parking reserved for us.

this seems to be the best of both worlds. I avoid driving through florence/dealing with ZTL and crazy bus lanes. still thinking about other options though. train from Florence to Salerno is about 100 euro for both of us...... that's a 4 hour train ride.... then probably another hour or so to amalfi if i rent a car in salerno.
its about a 6 hour car ride from florence to amalfi - right into amalfi where we are staying.
any ideas?

man I really want a car in florence to drive out to the country side but this ZTL and bus lane thing seems more trouble than worth. has anyone been to florence and drive around the country side? what did u do?
Sr. Member
Nov 3, 2002
972 posts
93 upvotes
we stayed in florence for a few days rented a car and then spent 6 days in the tuscany countryside.

So you may want to schedule it like that. pick up the car in florence and spend a night or two in the countryside on the way to amalfi.

Great places would be Greve, Panzano, Castellina, san gimignano.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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rubeus wrote: we stayed in florence for a few days rented a car and then spent 6 days in the tuscany countryside.

So you may want to schedule it like that. pick up the car in florence and spend a night or two in the countryside on the way to amalfi.

Great places would be Greve, Panzano, Castellina, san gimignano.
nice, where did u pick it up in florence? seems there are 2 spots ; airport and downtown breganti road, or whatever its called.
Sr. Member
Nov 3, 2002
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downtown near the train station.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2006
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Having been there a few times, I would caution about driving too and while driving could be bad, PARKING for sure much worst, as local would say, "Italians don't park cars, they abandon them."
The Devil made me buy it - RFD. :twisted:
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
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Toronto
thanks for the comments.
ive decided to rent a car in florence and drive to amalfi... the airbnb i am staying at in amalfi has ample parking and a spot reserved for us.
ive researched the maps extensively and the drive doesn't seem bad and the roads/exits seem adequately marked. . I will be on the autostradas the entire time, with exception when driving amalfi drive to get to my airbnb. and then driving to the autostrada to get to east coast of italy. autostrada seems on par with 401,
the only city driving i will need to do is geting out of florence, but it's pretty much one road out of the ZTL from the rental pick up spot, and then right to the highway from there. amalfi costal road doesn't seem to bad, with exception into some of the city/towns where it gets congested, but I'm not really worried. im getting a VW polo, small enough car should be fine.

i am a pretty pro driver, will have an automatic rental as I haven't driven stick in years, and im lazy, so im really not concerned much...

should be a fun drive. i like driving in new countries..im probably one of the few that enjoys driving in new countries... as long as i dont get a ZTL or Bus lane ticket in florence, ill be happy lol.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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im hoping to bring my dash cam along so i can record the drive for u guys.
Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2015
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In Italy now. Haven't read through the thread.

I have driven here but generally my husband is the driver- we come here at least once a year since I have family here.

My thoughts (apologies if it's repetitive)
Make sure you have change on hand for tolls. DO NOT misplace your ticket.

Be wary of your GPS in cities. Many cities have restricted roads (meaning you need a permit to drive on those roads during certain times/ all hours of the day). Florence is like that. We once ran up 8 tickets just by spending the day in Florence in a few years ago.

Be careful of speed cameras.

Italians like to to straddle 2 lanes while driving- I never noticed it before. My husband (who isn't Italian) always points it out to me now lol you will notice this on the autostrada.

If you enjoy driving in other countries (my husband is like you) you will enjoy yourself.

Any questions just ask :)
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Jun 10, 2011
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Just get a data plan and use Google Maps. It will avoid ZTL (restricted areas) and has good traffic info.
Florence's centre is all ZTL so make sure to give your hotel your car's plate number so that they can temporarily add you to the system and avoid tickets.
As for parking. Inside florence it's expensive. Outside the centre you can even find free parking.
I lived 5 years in Italy and never paid for parking anywhere. Most cities don't even have parking enforcement so it's not a big headache.
[OP]
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Dec 27, 2013
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durrsak wrote: Just get a data plan and use Google Maps. It will avoid ZTL (restricted areas) and has good traffic info.
Florence's centre is all ZTL so make sure to give your hotel your car's plate number so that they can temporarily add you to the system and avoid tickets.
As for parking. Inside florence it's expensive. Outside the centre you can even find free parking.
I lived 5 years in Italy and never paid for parking anywhere. Most cities don't even have parking enforcement so it's not a big headache.
thanks for the info guys. I won't be driving into florence, I will only be driving out of florence from the rental pick up office located on Borgo Ognissanti.. I looked on google maps and it's super easy to get out of the city avoiding the ZTLs... Unless I get confused or make a wrong turn (doubtful as it's pretty straightforward to get out) I should be good.

no too worried.
thanks for the info!

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