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Train or Car - Tuscany

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posts: 3
Train or Car - Tuscany

We have a 11 day trip to Italy planned with 4 days alloted to Florence/Tuscany for our honeymoon at the end of April. Everything is booked, but the train tickets but we are considering renting a car for a portion of the trip to Florence/Siena area.

The itinerary is to spend the first 3 days in Rome then head to Tuscany. Should we rent a car out of Rome and drive to Siena/Florence or take a train and rent a car when we get there? IF we rent it out of Rome, if we pick it up at the airport, will we avoid city traffic?

We are pretty nervous about driving in a foreign country - any advise will help. Thanks - Marni D.

South Australia
posts: 21,672
reviews: 12
1. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

You could take the train to Chiusi and rent a car, which is convenient for enjoying rural Tuscany.

www.trenitalia.it/homepage_en.html

www.auto-europe.com www.auto-europe.co.uk

Route planner www.viamichelin.com

Non EU citizens require an International driving permit for Italy

Read Top Questions to the right "Driving in Tuscany", to inform on Traffic restrictions and ZTL areas

Bus From Siena to Florence www.busfox.com/timetable

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

www.rome.info

www.discovertuscany.com

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 52,806
reviews: 11
2. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

There is nothing to be nervous about. Outside the major cities, driving in Italy is no more difficult than driving in the USA. I have put together some notes about driving in Italy: www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/ItalyDrive.htm

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
posts: 6,385
reviews: 49
3. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

Just don't try to drive into central Florence and make sure you know all about the ZTLs before driving elsewhere.

Alexandria, VA USA
posts: 553
reviews: 60
4. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

I think it depends on where you area actually staying for those days. If you are staying in Florence, the train is definitely your best bet. But, if you are staying in the countryside, you will need a car.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 4,140
reviews: 75
5. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

We rented a car in Tuscany last November. Driving was easy as long as you don't mind occasionally getting lost. You absolutely don't want a car in either Florence or Sienna. It will just be a hassle. You will want one to visit any of the countryside and hill towns.

We started in Florence for a few days with no car, took a bus to Sienna, where we spent a couple days again with no car. Then we picked up a car the morning we left Sienna, drove around Tuscany, and returned it at the airport in Florence. That way we avoided driving in the city areas of Florence or Sienna.

Ontario Canada
posts: 1,572
reviews: 56
6. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

We rented a car and found driving around and visiting tiny towns to be the best memories of our Italy trip. Almost none of them had access by train.

Buy a good GPS with Italian maps included (or buy the CD card) and also buy a good paper map. We were never lost but sometimes you will run into new construction that has not been updated.

Count on taking twice as long as you think. You will want to stop frequently and take photos along the side of roads.

For those that have only seen Tuscany from a train, you're missing the best parts.

Rome, Italy
posts: 74
reviews: 64
7. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

I would suggest to move from Rome to Florence by train (it takes 1.5 hours if you take the high-speed train). Then, to visit Florence and all the other cities in Tuscany (Pisa, Siena), which are pretty small, you need no car. I would anyway suggest to rent a car for exploring Tuscany coutryside, and to get from Florence to Siena, which is quite annoying by train.

Florence, Italy
posts: 989
8. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

When we go on road trips, we look forward to getting a little lost! No one's ever gotten so lost they were never seen again and as long as you're not on a tight schedule, it's a great way to stumble across things you would never have stumbled across.

Here's a tip for drivers in the countryside, and even in the towns: do not despair if you're following the signs to your destination then suddenly you come to an intersection and your destination isn't among the signs posted! Italian roads assume that if you don't see your destination posted, you'll continue forging ahead in the same direction until you do. So just relax and drive - the signs won't abandon you!

Also, the GPS is a handy helper, but around here it's far from infallible. For instance when I plug my address into the GPS, it leaves me about kilometer and a half from my house! So use it, but don't believe everything it tells you!

Edited: 1:37 pm, March 08, 2013
Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,079
reviews: 1
9. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

I so agree with everything Eugene says. When travelling further afield we have often discovered wonderful places that we might never have known existed purely by getting lost. People often ask me “what’s the best way of getting from X to Y” but invariably there isn’t one best way, there are several and getting lost en route is just the best thing you can do if time permits. I remember only this week recommending to a poster that they “got lost” in the Val d’Orcia between La Foce and Ripa d’Orcia for it’s all so beautiful, you can’t go “wrong”. And another area to lose yourselves in is up on le Crete between Siena and San Quirico / Pienza / Montepulciano. There is no “right” way to travel from Siena to Montepulciano for every lane will take you through gorgeous countryside where you’ll stumble upon beautiful, and sometimes seldom visited, villages.

And Eugene’s observation about signposts is something that is again so true. We took advantage of some sunny days recently to explore parts of Umbria / Lazio that we don’t know so well and came up against this all the time. And I think I’ve posted before of my own difficulties in finding the formal start of the Chiantigiana at Firenze Sud. One day as a passenger I’m going to note down the ever changing sequence of signposts for somewhere as simple as Siena when leaving the south of Florence area. My personal favourite though is approaching what most people refer to as Rome Fiumicino airport. For miles you are following signs with a picture of an aeroplane under which is written “Fiumicino”. But then, about a couple of kilometres from the actual airport itself, there is no longer any reference to FCO at all, it suddenly becomes "Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci"! (Which it is.) We often wonder how many visitors rushing to return hire cars and catch long haul flights are completely thrown by that!

Re GPS, I can't believe it's true, and I'm very reluctant to mention this dreadful newspaper but the following article is an interesting warning to those who blindly follow their Tom Toms: dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262149/Belgian…

Ontario Canada
posts: 1,572
reviews: 56
10. Re: Train or Car - Tuscany

I found that a good GPS with updated maps was never wrong except when new road construction was not on the GPS. Then, a good road map to work with was essential. Road signs are not good. Driving through Sorrento area was a nightmare trying to read a signboard with a dozen or more town names when you're driving on a main road and traffic is on your *ss.

Roundabouts are particularly problematic when there is no easily defined straight route and although the GPS was correct, I did take the incorrect exit sometimes because i thought it appeared more correct. Sometimes the correct exit is just a few meters away from the wrong one and can cause a problem. I do agree that you need to allow enough time to 'get lost' and explore areas that just look interesting.

Above all, good common sense when driving is essential. BTW, I abhor using a GPS when I drive at home. Much prefer to learn the way myself but when traveling, it made our trip successful.

If you are a timid driver, I would suggest that you should hire someone to do it or take the bus or train. My wife was often frazzled with the traffic, for me, it was just like any crazy city.