The name of the Italians as fast and nervous drivers goes before them, but this really does not mean that you should be afraid of traveling by car in Italy – on the contrary! Once you know the right secrets, driving becomes an experience in itself and opens up a wide world of possibilities, so welcome to the detailed guide to renting a car in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, if not the world. Before you get behind the wheel, spend a few minutes reading and internalizing the information, and you can enjoy an experiential drive on Italian roads, and the amazing views along them.
Why a car?
First of all, it gives freedom. You can enjoy a perfect trip for you without sticking to limitations such as bus times or expensive organized trips that do not necessarily meet all your wishes. Not to mention that it is much more convenient to throw the luggage in the trunk instead of rolling it down the street. With a rental car, you can stop at the restaurants you want, at spectacular views, at shops along the way, at interesting villages, at places you didn’t know, all at your convenience and in your own time.
If we have already mentioned villages, a large part of the beauty of Italy is the villages embedded in it. When moving around with public transportation, every glimpse of a small and authentic village turns into hours of wandering around in crowded buses, which takes precious time from the trip and destroys the natural sequence of the journey. In short, life in a car is much simpler.
Where yes, where not?
In the big cities, such as Rome, Milan, Naples and more, it is less recommended to go around by car. Public transportation is relatively convenient and you can get to different places on foot, which makes searching for parking and long waits in traffic seem completely unnecessary.
On the other hand, if you are traveling in the mountains, villages or other places outside the city – it is recommended not to give up renting a car. This is the right and most convenient way to experience these places, it allows flexibility and saves complications along the way.
In most cases, together with the purchase of the flight ticket, you will be offered the option of renting a car. This is a recommended and convenient option and these rental companies are considered safe and reliable. There is an option to rent a car through other websites as well (just search on Google Car Rental and the name of the place where you land), just don’t forget to check if the company is reliable and where the car is picked up from.
Most of the rental companies are located outside the airport and as a general rule it is recommended to pick up the car at the airport, wherever you arrive. It is usually an easy and fair task to get to the rental companies at the airport – just follow the signs. Some airports (for example in Naples) have a free shuttle to the car rental area. If you need to return the vehicle to the same place, it is important to remember (or better yet – write down) the exact location from which you took the vehicle. In the navigation app, the address you navigated to is not the airport but the rental area (for example, if we look at Naples again, write: Europcar Naples Capodichino Aeroporto in the navigation app).
Less is more
The first and most important thing when choosing a car in Italy is to think small – the smaller the car, the smaller the problems. The streets are very narrow and a road that one car has trouble passing is considered a two-way road. Most of the vehicles that can be found in rental companies are Smart or Fiat 500 vehicles and similar. Even if it seems a bit crowded inside, it will save you a lot of scratches, searching for parking spaces and heart palpitations in narrow passages.
Where do we go from here?
The second and equally important thing is a navigation device, thanks to which you will reach your destinations safely. There are two main options: buy a navigation device built into the car through the rental company at a price of about 10 euros per day, or alternatively buy a surfing package in Israel or an Italian SIM card (which includes an internet package, messages and local calls) and navigate through the familiar navigation apps.
A SIM card can be bought at any airport you arrive at or at nearby stores. Its cost ranges from 25 to 40 euros and usually includes about 8 GB. At the airport you can also buy one package divided between two different SIM cards.
The second option is the recommended one, because this way you can use the application in Hebrew and also use the Internet for emergencies and other things.
Some important things to remember before renting a car in Italy
- Bring your passport, driver’s license and credit card with you. Without these, you will not be able to get a car.
- As in most European countries, almost all rental vehicles are with a manual transmission. If you really insist on an automatic transmission, it must be ordered in advance.
- Usually the rental companies work with the Full to Full method – you receive the car with a full tank of fuel and return it with a full tank of fuel. It is a very expensive mistake to forget to fill the tank.
- If something happens to the car, you can be charged 1,000 euros or more. It is highly recommended to include car insurance in the rental, usually at a cost of 40 euros per day. It is worth your peace of mind, certainly on the urban roads in Italy.
- When you rent a car, you only pay for one driver. If you want to share the driving, you will have to pay for an additional driver, an addition of about 10 euros per day.
- You can also rent car seats for children and babies for an additional €10 per day.
And some important tips about driving itself
- Every time you get on a highway (A1, A3, etc.) you have to pay a toll of 2-3 euros. You can choose in the navigation application not to drive through toll roads, but on long journeys it is difficult to avoid them.
- When drivers honk in villages it is usually to say hello to a neighbor who is passing by, don’t be alarmed.
- When you enter small streets, they can reach a narrower width than the width of your car, so if there is any doubt – there is no doubt: you should not enter places that you are not sure you can get out of.
- Take initiative! Drivers in Italy are impatient and will usually just take the right of way, even if it doesn’t belong to them. It will take some time to get used to it, but in the end you realize that you have to drive like this, otherwise you won’t be able to pass intersections and merge into roundabouts.
- Parking everywhere (almost) costs money. Look around for signs or payment machines before you move away from the vehicle so that you don’t get a parking ticket.
- Prepare to be overtaken. Always. From the left, from the right, with a continuous dividing line or when a truck is coming in front. Don’t get too excited, Italians are used to tourists traveling slowly to enjoy the sights they already know by heart.
- And last but not least – enjoy! It is a different, experiential and fluid driving, one that cannot be found in Israel. You have to be alert, but once you get into the atmosphere, you no longer want to go back to driving in Israel.