If you're looking for wonderful food and passion - lots of passion - then Italy is the place to visit. By hiring a car you'll be able to explore more of what this country has to offer. Stop-off along your route and enjoy some pasta - Italians love their food - or a pizza, whilst enjoying some of the finest scenic drives in Europe.
Hiring a car
If you're touring across Italy, then hiring a car is the best way to do it, especially if you're heading away from cities and taking scenic country drives. Major airports will most likely be where you pick your car up and as long as you have a valid driving license, renting up a car should be a fairly straightforward process. If you're driving in cities like Rome and Milan - we urge caution, the locals are certainly a passionate bunch and that can sometimes carry over into their driving.
Popular drives in Italy
Alcantra River Park, Sicily - The Alcantara gorges are natural coves of volcanic origin, with walls up to 50-meters high. On your way there, take a visit to the old town of Santa Maria della Raccomandata and the medieval village of Motta Camastra - which is the home town of the gorges.
Amalfi Coast - Lying along the southern flanks of the Sorrento Peninsula is one of Italy's most scenic stretches. This drive will take you through pastel-hued villages, pretty hillsides, green-swathed mountains and past turquoise waters.
Great Dolomite Road - If you want some breathtaking views, then take the 100 kilometre drive through the most scenic peaks of the Dolomites. The road takes about three-hours to drive, but if you have some extra time, we recommend taking a detour to enjoy some lovely little villages and top up on your mountain views.
National Park of Abruzzo - The regions of Abruzzo are just a two-hour drive east of Rome and provide the chance to see some stunning countryside views along your journey. In the park, you can head to the mountains and enjoy the untouched small towns situated in the park along the way.
General Advice on Hiring a Car
Extra costs to consider
Before you make the final purchase of your hire car you should check the terms and conditions to make sure you are clear about all the charges that form part of your agreement.
We've listed the most common ones to watch out for here:
Drivers under 25: All car rental companies add a mandatory charge for drivers under 25. Rates vary but the amount should be clear in advance, even if you have to pay it when you pick up your car in Italy.
One-way surcharge: If you you're dropping off your car somewhere different to where you collected it a one-way charge usually applies.
Insurance: Check what level of insurance is included with the car, and consider taking out further insurance if you are concerned about any of the following:
Excess: It is common that the basic level of insurance will include an excess - this is an amount that you need to pay in the event of an accident. Check what it is in advance.
If you don't want to have an excess you may be able to pay additional for an excess waiver - this is usually offered when you pick the car up.
Alternatively you can take out an independent excess insurance policy before you pick up the car. This usually works out the cheapest option. but note you would need to pay your excess in the event of an accident, and then reclaim it later.
Exclusions - Be clear about what is and isn't included in the standard insurance policy. Sometimes claims related to more easily damaged parts of the car like tyres, windscreen and undercarriage will be excluded, or you may find you're not covered for eventualities like lost keys.
You will likely be able to upgrade the insurance to cover these possibilities when you collect the car. Or look into independent insurance. Some excess insurance policies also cover these types of claims.
Fuel: Car rental companies vary in their fuel policies. Some give you a full tank on arrival and ask you return the car just as full. Others will charge you for the full tank and allow you to return the car empty. Understand which policy applies when you pick up the car.
If you do not return the car with the correct amount of fuel you may need to pay a refuelling fee, in addition to the cost of petrol (which may be higher than what you'd normally pay for petrol in Italy).
Extras If you are going to need any extras like a sat nav, snow chains or a child seat check what the cost will be before booking, and let the car hire company know to reserve them for you.
Mileage Some car rentals come with unlimited mileage, but others have a daily maximum mileage. Check the amount won't be limiting if you're planning some long road trips in Italy.
Credit cards: Most car rental companies will only accept credit cards. Debit cards and American Express cards are not widely accepted.
In some cases you will need to pay a deposit or preauthorise one on your credit card. Check this at the time of booking. Any deposit should be fully refunded so long as you return the car with no damage.
Sometimes only credit cards in the driver's name will be accepted. Check this at the time of booking.
If you feel you have been unfairly charged by your car hire company you should contact the European Car Rental Conciliation Service.
When you pick up your car:
Car hire can be a complex with world with deals available through a network of massive international companies, local suppliers and brokers. Always check who will actually be providing your car when you book. It'll save you time finding them when it's time to pick up your car in Italy.
Always do a thorough check of the car before you drive off, and make sure any existing dents in the car are noted so you won't end up paying for them later!
The car rental company are going to need to see drivers licences for all named drivers - so make sure you remember all parts for them! You may also need to provide additional forms of ID. Check exactly what will be required when you book.
On the road:
Check if there are any road or parking regulations in Italy that will increase costs - toll roads for example.
You should always check out local driving laws before you get on the road! Remember that you are liable for any speeding tickets or parking fines you incur.
Should any accident or incident occur always inform your car rental company as soon as possible.
Returning your car:
You should ask about the procedure for returning the vehicle when you pick it up. Especially if you need to return the car very early or late - there may be a special out of hours procedure.
Remember to fill your car up with petrol (if specified by your fuel policy).
Where possible you should always check the car with a representative from your car rental company. Get them to confirm that the car has been returned in good condition and that any deposit will be refunded.
If you're dropping the car off at an airport make sure you leave enough time to catch your return flight.