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Thoughts On Renting A Car In Rome

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May 7, 2010 Exploring Rome, Travel Expert 4 Comments

If you’re planning a trip to Rome this year with a view to exploring the attractions of the wider region of Latium, you may be considering the option of car hire. This can give you considerably more freedom to explore at your own pace than you would have if you were to rely on public transport. Not only would you have to negotiate complicated bus and train timetables and adhere to departure times, you would never be able to head off in any direction at any time, should the mood take you. As long as you`re willing to face a few little adventures and challenges along the way, you could find that hiring a car is the best way to get the most out of your holiday.

two red motorini e police Thoughts On Renting A Car In Rome

Traffic in Rome

Many would in fact advise against driving in Rome altogether, with city roads busy and complex, one-way systems to confuse even the most confident of drivers and styles of driving that are much more erratic than in the UK. Italians are comfortable driving much closer to the car in front, for instance and will seize the opportunity of jumping into any available space without indicating, even if it is directly in front of you. Parking is an additional headache, as only permanent residents may park their cars in the city streets and public car-parks are limited. It is essential therefore to ensure you have a reserved parking space for the duration of your stay before you arrive. As long as you make allowances for these restrictions and provided you have good maps and that you study them in detail before you set out on any journey, you should be able to minimise the issues you face.

Car-rental specialists operate from within both of Rome`s airports and include familiar names such as Hertz, Avis and Thrifty, although it`s always best to book online well in advance of your trip to ensure the best rates and your preferred vehicle. When presenting your documents at the desk, bear in mind that an International Drivers Permit (IDP) has been a legal requirement for hiring a car in Italy since 2005, so this must be organised prior to your trip. If you plan to pick up your vehicle in Rome but return it in another city, you will probably have to pay drop-off charges, so make sure you budget for this. Finally, if you`re driving in Italy for the first time, pay close attention to the roads around you, making full use of your rear-view mirrors at all times and being extra vigilant to all activity on the road around you.

Rome is an exciting blend of ancient, medieval, renaissance and modern. If you’re travelling here by road from Fiumicino airport 16 miles south-west of the city centre, nothing compares with the way the cityscape reveals its historic attractions one by one. Make your approach via the Passeggiata del Gianicolo, site of the majestic statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, before descending Gianicolo Hill, as more historic landmarks and monuments come into view. If this breathtaking image appeals to your sense of adventure, check out the deals on offer for car hire Rome and get planning the trip of a lifetime.

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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Simon says:

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    I have hired a car before and it is not so bad as people think. Certainly, in Rome, it is more difficult because of the restricted zone – badly marked and heavy fines if you go in. But it is great for getting out of Rome to the local hills, lakes, rivers, historic towns, even Viterbo or Pompeii.

  2. Leslie says:

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    A few comments:
    – as mentioned in the article, driving and finding a parking space in Rome can be a real pain on occasion. If you’re only staying in the city I’d spend the money saved by not getting a car rental on taxis.
    – I’ve never been asked for (or even heard of) an IDP; my standard UK licence has always been sufficient.
    – if you want to save money it’s generally a lot cheaper not to book a car from the airport. Book from Termini (the main station) which is easily reachable by train from Fiumicino or by bus transfer from Ciampino. If I remember correctly you also avoid problems with Rome’s restricted traffic zone (ZTL) that way because Termini’s inside it.
    – get full insurance.
    – if someone asks you for ‘a tip’ even though you have legally parked your car on the street, pay them, especially in Naples.
    – check your credit card bills afterwards. My sister was charged twice by one of the big providers.
    Happy driving!

    • Eli says:

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      I agree that you should get good insurance!

      And if you really must drive in Rome… Take your time, and try to take it easy. Use a SatNav.

  3. Eric says:

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    But you need to be aware.

    Basically it says a couple of key points.. Some downtown areas of cities are limited by a system of permits (called “ZTL” and functioning the same way as an EasyPass system in the United States might on the freeway). Cameras record the license plates of cars driving in parts of the city that require a permit. You will be fined, but you may not know. And the fines are cumulative. US drivers will get the bill through the post back home and it can be heafty

    U.S. citizens driving in Italy should also note that, according to Italian regulation, if a resident of a non-European Union country (e.g. the United States) violates a traffic law, the violator must pay the fine at the time the violation occurs to the police officer issuing the ticket. If the citizen does not or cannot pay the fine at the time, Italian regulation allows the police officer to confiscate the offender’s vehicle (even if the vehicle is a rental vehicle).

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