7 Things You Need to Know When Renting a Car in Italy

PUBLISHED ON Jan, 20 2023

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Italy has something for everyone. If you’re thinking of exploring this marvelous country via rental car, here are some things you need to know

Italy has something for everyone. If you’re a foodie, you will never run out of good food, whether you’re into avant-garde gastronomic delights or the classic dishes Italy is famous for. If nature is your thing, there are lots of majestic beaches and rural landscapes to explore. A fan of art and history? There are tons of museums, ancient ruins, and architecture to check out.

If you’re thinking of exploring this marvelous country via rental car, here are some things you need to know.

Is it advisable to rent a car in Italy?

Trains and buses are popular means of traveling in Europe due to the convenience and affordable cost. If your itinerary only includes the major tourist cities, public transportation is often enough to get there.

However, trains and buses are not always the best option. They follow a rigid schedule, are often crowded, and lugging around heavy bags is just uncomfortable. Many scenic areas (such as small towns and the countryside) are also unreachable by train or bus. In addition, some trains do not have air conditioning even in hot summer months.

Riding taxis, meanwhile, can get expensive if you are traveling long distances or if you and your companions don’t fit in a single vehicle.

In contrast, with a rental car, you can choose a vehicle that is big enough to accommodate your entire group and your luggages. You can visit places inaccessible via public transportation, stop where you want, and make whatever side trips you fancy. You can easily change your plans as needed so you can fully enjoy all the places you go to.

Having a rental car also enables you to have a non-touristy trip. You can avoid the tourist traps, get off the beaten path, and have a more authentic experience. In terms of cost, it might be cheaper for a group of four or more people to rent a car than travel by train.

Are car rental offices in Italy open 24/7?

Pay attention to the office hours of the company you’re renting from. Unlike in other countries, rental agencies in Italy are closed on Sundays, holidays, and hours outside the standard business day. Airport depots have longer hours but to be safe, ask beforehand.

What about rental car insurance?

Because of Italy’s narrow roads, crowded highways, and aggressive drivers, having Italy car rental insurance is a must. Basic coverage for liability, theft, and collision (aka CDW) is mandatory when renting vehicles in the country and is thus included in the rental rates. The basic insurance that comes with a car rental usually has an excess, which is the amount you would be responsible for paying in the event of damage or theft of the vehicle. For additional excess waiver insurance, you can buy a policy from the car hire firm but you can get the same or even better coverage from a third-party excess waiver insurance provider, for much cheaper.

Are there automatic transmission cars for rent in Italy?

Yes, and it is cheaper to rent automatic transmission cars in Italy than in most other Western European countries. The majority of cars in Europe are manual, though, so if you prefer one with automatic transmission, specify that on your reservation, or you will be given a manual.

And because automatic cars are limited, expect to pay more and don’t forget to book as early as possible to make sure that you get one. If there is a long line when you pick up the vehicle, such that you won’t be able to pick it up on time, let the staff know that you’re already there so that they don’t give your reserved car to another customer.

Do I need an international driving permit?

An international driving permit is legally required if you’re a foreigner driving in Italy. Many car hire companies don’t require you to present this permit when renting but if a police officer pulls you over and you don’t have one, you will get fined, so it is better to just get one before your trip to avoid any hassle. You can get your permit from AAA or the National Automobile Club for only $20.

Is it safe to leave my things in the rental car?

It is better to leave your luggage in your hotel room or take your valuables with you when parking your rental vehicle. Italy has a low rate of violent crime but vehicle break-ins and petty theft happen so it is better to be careful.

Are there age requirements for the driver?

The minimum age required depends on the car hire company but drivers below 25 years old typically have to pay a surcharge of around 20 EUR per day. The maximum age requirement varies as well but is usually 70 or 75.

Bottom Line

While there are destinations and situations where taking public transportation is the best option, renting a car is something worth considering when exploring Italy, as having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to get a more relaxed, closer look at what this country has to offer.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

Find the answers you’re looking for to the most frequently asked car hire insurance questions as well as other questions relating to our products and services.

Visit the FAQ page