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Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

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melbourne
posts: 307
reviews: 29
Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

We will be spending 6 nights in Tuscany basing ourselves in Cortona or San Gimignano. We hope to hire a car and drive to the various sites over these days exploring the area... I have read the Trip Advisor page on driving in Italy, and quite frankly, It has freaked me out a tad!

I would love to hear from Aussies or people from countries that drive on the Left as to the pros and cons of hiring a car

Where do you park when arriving in Siena or Florence, or is it better to take public transport into the larger cities?

What is the approx driving times between towns?

Reputable car hire places? Do the smaller walled towns have car hire?

Any other valuable info would be invaluable...

Seattle, Washington
posts: 792
reviews: 70
1. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

OK, I'm from the US and while we don't drive on the left I drove in England without getting killed:-). The only problem I had was in parking lots or pulling up near a ticket kiosk...I always went the to the wrong side, but fortunately the English are very patient or it didn't mattter. If you have a navigator it really helps because you can consult with them on which side is the correct side. We gave up saying "Right" while we were in England and went with "Correct" as it was less confusing when discussing which lane to be in....for the most part it is eay because you're not going to drive into oncoming traffic.

I wouldn't bother driving in Florence or Siena. Florence has narrow streets and a lot of traffic plus the areas most tourists want to see are within an easily walkable area. The historic area of Siena is pedistrianized and no cars are allowed.

You can do it!

Enjoy!

melbourne
posts: 307
reviews: 29
2. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

hahaa...I can see where right as opposed to correct could be a huge problem..

Thanks for the advice..Miles To Go. Did you have a hire car in Tuscany and did you park it outside of the bigger cities and drive to the smaller ones, or did you rely on public transport?

Los Angeles...
posts: 5,115
reviews: 312
3. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

Same here - we live in US but drove all over Scotland in 2008, and England and Wales this past Fall, and lived to tell the tail.

Based upon husband's comments and facial expressions, it must have been very odd at first and difficult to orient oneself when in any type of trafficy situations. On country roads, including one-lane ones, there is not a problem. I can tell you that a portable GPS helped a lot in terms of taking the roundabouts and just with general driving directions, so at least we did not have to worry about those.

As noted above, do not drive into Florence for a variety of reasons, including traffic and certain restricted zones. You could drive to Siena and park at the public park at the toe of the slope.

Could you spend a day or two in Florence at the beginning of your Tuscany holiday and then hire a car on the way out? On that day, visit San Gimigano and Volterra as day trips. Then move South and stay at, say, Pienza or San Quirico. I am thinking of reasonably flat villages for ease of driving. Cortona is really hilly and not all that convenient to exploring the rest of Tuscan countryside, IMO, unless there is a specific reason you are thinking of Cortona as a base.

South Australia
posts: 23,204
reviews: 12
4. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

Hi larose.

Its like riding a bike you soon get the hang of it, and in Tuscany a car is covenient as public transport is limited.

What is important is avoiding traffic restictions and ZTL areas, to the right in Top Questions read "Driving in Tuscany".

You could rent the car in Siena for your rural Tuscany travels, which is reached from Florence by bus www.busfox.com/timetable or at Florence airport

www.autoeurope.com.au

Route planner www.viamichelin.com

Accommodation www.venere.com www.bed-and-breakfast-in-italy.com

www.discovertuscany.com

www.italia.it/en/home.html

melbourne
posts: 307
reviews: 29
5. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

Thanks Nurioopta..you are always a wealth of information, and I especially love your links; very helpful:)

Anna Roz...I will investigate your suggestions of staying in the South..I haven't looked at these spots as yet..I was so caught up in the charm of Cortina and San Gimigano

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 60,615
reviews: 11
6. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

When I first drove on the right, it was terrifying for the first few hours and then needed concentration for the next couple of days. Now, I get in a car and drive away on the correct side road, based on which side of the car I am sitting.

Driving in rural Tuscany is not difficult. There is not heavy traffic and the roads are almost all good-quality two-lane country roads. The centre of almost every settlement is closed to visitors' cars: assume that you are not allowed to drive inside the walls.

Some information on driving in Italy: www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/ItalyDrive.htm

UK
posts: 2,622
reviews: 54
7. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

The parking areas are well signposted around Siena

discovertuscany.com/siena/tourist-info/parki…

It is best to travel into Florence by public transport unless you plan to visit on a Sunday when the ZTLs are not in operation. We drove in early (before 9am) and parked with ease near the Brancacci Chapel.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
posts: 7,069
reviews: 51
8. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

Oh dear, the article isn't meant to freak people out, perhaps I will put in a paragraph at the end to try to reassure people.

As a Brit, we drive on the left too and ok you'll have a couple of moments when you'll go to change gear and hit your hand on the door, but you will very quickly make the adjustment. The only problem I ever had was a moment's hesitation sometimes when turning from one road into another and you suddenly think 'which side should I be on??' The way to deal with it is remember that you, as the driver, are always in the middle of the road, never right on the edge.

The honest truth is that having a hire car in Tuscany really is worth doing. Public transport will get you between cities, but to see the countryside, smaller towns and villages you need a car. Just about every urban settlement will have a ZTL, but these will be clearly signed and there will be car parks also clearly signed, outside the zones.

Every place is easily dealt with, with the exception of Florence, in my opinion it is better to drive to a local train station, park there for the day and train in and out. Perhaps do a little bit of forward research, so you have an idea where to park in places like Siena, Pisa, Lucca or Arezzo, so you feel confident about where you are going, but otherwise just drive where you want to and follow the P signs and it will all be straightforward, I promise!

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
posts: 7,069
reviews: 51
9. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

Oh I also meant to say check out http://www.auto-europe.co.uk/ for hire car prices. They are a broker and seem to get very good deals, just do pick a car provided by one of the big companies such as hertz, avis or europcar, don't be tempted by the cheaper cars provided by smaller companies, people seem to have more problems with them.

If you tell us where you arriving and leaving from we can suggest a good place to pick up and drop off the car.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 60,615
reviews: 11
10. Re: Driving in Tuscany...Aussies how easy is it???

From Australia, look at www.autoeurope.com.au and www.driveaway.com.au