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.
You are required to buy collision and theft insurance.. Rental car companies won't let their car off the lot until they verify that you're covered. The easiest way to cover all of your bases is to purchase the all-inclusive rate with insurance coverage bundled into the price.
If you have a premium credit card, it might provide some additional secondary CDW and theft insurance as a perk. It's crucial that you to understand what coverage your credit card provides before you get to Italy. Know that the majority of credit cards specifically exclude Italy from their car rental insurance benefits.
Note: If you book through AutoSlash, these mandated coverages will be included in your quote. When a tax or fee is required from 100 percent of renters, the rental car companies include those charges in the quotes provided to us. If you book elsewhere, these could be added at the counter unless shown in your taxes and fee breakdown.
There are typically gaps in the CDW and theft protection. Be wary that you will still face some risks if CDW and theft protection are all you have. In Italy, CDW insurance will not typically cover damage to tires, windshields or undercarriages due to vandalism or misuse. Minor damage to the exterior of the car can still be taken from your deductible. And while theft insurance may cover a stolen rental car, it will not extend to any personal belongings you have inside the car. Carry valuables with you or leave them in the hotel safe.
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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