Renting a car in Italy? Much about the process will seem familiar but, as always, the devil is in the differences. By planning ahead and following a few tips, you can avoid a lot of headaches later.
Driving on the autostrada with the wind in your hair is a lot of fun, but long before you get there, it's worthwhile taking some time to understand a few of the potential pitfalls to renting a car in Italy. Here are our top tips for getting the most bang for your euro.
Essential Tips for Renting a Car in Italy
Book from home. Don't wait until you get to Europe to rent a vehicle. It will be cheaper to book your car from the United States.
Pay for your rental in local currency, not US dollars. Dynamic Currency Conversion may seem like a convenient service. It essentially offers you the choice of being charged in the local currency or your home currency. If you opt to pay in U.S. dollars, the rental car company converts the purchase amount from the local currency on your behalf. But this process is entirely unnecessary, since your credit card company will process the transaction in either currency, and you will pay through the nose for the non-convenience.
You are required to carry an International Driving Permit.. It's inexpensive and easy to get an International Driving Permit, but you need to apply before you leave on your trip.
Basic insurance coverage is included by law. Collision damage waiver (CDW), theft protection waiver (TPW), and third party liability (TPL) are automatically included by law on all rentals in Italy. Rental companies offer higher levels of protection as optional add-ons (SCDW) but the included insurance covers most people's needs pretty well. Prices for higher levels of coverage vary by company and options and can be purchased at the rental counter if you wish.
Note:When renting through AutoSlash, insurance coverage is always included in Italy. If you book elsewhere, these could be added at the counter unless shown in your taxes and fee breakdown.
Automatic transmissions can be harder to find. Do you know how to drive a car with a stick shift? The vast majority of vehicles have manual transmission. If you don't specifically request an automatic transmission, the vehicle will have a manual transmission. If you need an automatic vehicle, it can be easier to find one at an airport location.
Inspect the car before you drive away. No matter how excited you are to get behind the wheel of your vacation car in Italy, take time to protect yourself from potential false damage claims by inspecting the car and taking note of dings, dents and scratches. Document everything with photos at the time you pick up and return the car.
Traffic cameras are everywhere. In Italy, there are two particularly common instances of receiving tickets: speeding tickets and traffic infractions. If you make a traffic infraction while driving in Italy, it may be caught on camera. If this happens, you may receive a fine in the mail months after returning home. In addition, the rental car company may charge administrative fees for handling traffic infractions. Bottom line: Be meticulous about following the rules of the road.
You won't need or want a car to get around in a city. The second type of common infraction happens in zones designed to help reduce traffic congestion in cities like Florence and Rome. These zones in Italy are referred to as ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato). Unknowing rental car customers who don't understand or pay attention to the signage can quickly pick up multiple infractions. ZTLs make driving into a city's historic center either impossible or expensive, and it just makes no sense to have a car in a city.
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