How hard is it to rent a car in Italy?

09/21/2014 - 11:50

How hard is it to rent a car in Italy? And how hard is it to drive around in a car in Italy?



Hello Stacey,    It is definitely not difficult to rent a car in Italy,like the poster above said, you will need the international driver's permit (not everyone asks) , your license and most definitely a credit card. Make sure to ask about limited driving zones which are in italy's larger cities, you can get a large fine if you drive in the wrong area, you can ask the rental company to point that out on a map.  I wish you the best of luck! Georgette | ITALY Magazine 

Things to avoid;- As a first time renter, I strongly recommend tha you stick to using one of the 'big' companies like Herz, Eurocar, Avis etc - you pay more but they do tend to treat customers better than some of the smaller/cheaper companies.Its worth doing an internet search to look at feedback on whichever one you choose [before renting, of course]Personally, I've never had trouble with Hertz or Avis - but would never ever use Locauto again

In reply to by alan h

Totally agree with Alan H.....don't go near Locauto ! Read the reviews, they operate a scam imho, and we got caught out recently.  Check the boot/trunk right under where the spare is kept and make sure everything that should be there, is and it's in good condition. TAKE PHOTOS before you drive away of ANY damage. 

 How hard is it to drive around Italy?  According to where you come from is how easy or not.  If you are used to politeness and good driving then you will find it most frustrating.  They drive on your backside and never stick to their own side of the road, overtake on bends at speed, never signal their intentions and don't respect road signs .....  we have driven there on our holidays for years but this year it was the worst..  Good luck and make sure you take out the best insurance :)

Excess Insurance Cover All car hire companies charge the earth for insurance to cover the excess payable in the case of an accident.Buy Annual Car Hire Excess Insurance [search on-line] for about £40 - £50.  It is well worth it if your hire is over a week duration

On the whole Italians ARE bad drivers.  Driving is all about concentration - thinking about  what you are doing and second guessing what others are going to do.  That's why there are so many killed on the roads and the insurance is so high.

I disagree.  Italians are good drivers, they have superb reaction times, and know what other drivers will do.  Insurance is high because of the amount of false claims and theft, not the amont of accidents - and the level of accidents doesnt seem much higher than other countries.   But they are selfish and do exactly what they want to do.  I notice that in towns they drive slowly, mainly because pedestrians are equally selfish and dont bother to look where they are going, and decide to push a pram out from behind a large lorry while talking on the phone.   The speed of traffic in UK cities is scary in comparison! 

Italians are not good drivers, whatever you say Modicasa.They are the worst I have ever seen and I have driven in many countries. Why would they try to overtake a car that is turning left, with its indicators on and then start gesticulating. They are pushy when overtaking and think they have the right to just push in front of you, even if you are in a row of traffic. Luckily, having a very large powerful vehicle, then I just close up to the one in front, so they have 2 options, stay out and there may be another bunch of flowers on the roadside, or pull back.A mirror in Italy is only for making sure your hairstyle is okay, a mobile phone call is never to be ignored and a indicator is something you turn on after you brake and turn into a corner .........The French are far better, as at least they do not hog the fast lane when something is coming up on them at 150 mph they move out the way. 

 Luckily, having a very large powerful vehicle, then I just close up to the one in front, Really?  - you should read your codice stradale.... if theres an accident, its your fault!  and you can be prosecuted for dangerous driving. So I reckon that makes you a bad driver..... ooops! 

The last time I was in italy was in the 80s. We drove then. It is not an experience I enjoyed. Please don't try to drive in Rome. The autostrada are okay. People drive very very fast and there area lot of tolls. Of course the advantage is that you can do whatever you want, and that isa significant advantage.

Never mind Modi, just keep the rose tinted glasses on.According to you, it is a offence to close up to a vehicle in front, but that is a normal Italian trait. Therefore if I do the same I am driving dangerously, if I do not let the imbecile who is trying to get to his pranzo at the time nonna has said.These are examples of great Italian driving that we have experienced.Twice trying to be overtaken when turning left, this was after there being a corner prior to the turning I was taking.Hit by a APE when parked correctly, (not Italian style ass out). Ape got away as quick as it could before we could get the targa.Hit while parked outside the doctor surgery, even though it was a wide side road. Woman driver hit front offside bumper which had been re-sprayed  2 days previously. Excuse was my phone rang.        Offered 100Euro to repair the damage.Going along a 90kph road, another woman just came out of another main road at a give way junction, approx 20 mtrs in front. 2 options driving 2.8 tonnes, hit her or as luck would have it no other traffic coming the other way. She did acknowledge she was sorry, but she could have been another statistic.Bumpers scrapped so many times in car parks, that you may as well have a contract with the bodyshop for the repaint.Seriously considering a on board camera to record these nutters.  

So there you have it Stacey!  Easy to hire a car - driving it another matter :(You will find the Autostrades between major cities are ok as not too busy (unlike the UK)  smaller roads, mountain roads and in towns not so good.  They do drive faster than speed limits and show no manners to other road users.  Pedestrians have to force their way across the roads and make them stop or they would wait at a crossing all day!!  Good luck but most of all enjoy your visit.

Driving in Italy can be an experience, we tend to veer on the 'safe side' but I also know what Badger means when it comes to people not respecting rules, it almost seems like you have to speed in order to drive 'safe' sometimes. I sometimes think that everyone living here should be required to take a driving exam because signs can be different and it would be a brush up on Italian law when it comes to the road.. Just my two cents! 

With the remark that everyone should take a driving exam in Italy, is rather ridiculous. The road signs are very similar to most EU countries, with very few exceptions. Probably most driving exams in many EU countries are more stringent as well.I suppose the advantage of taking the Italian test is that you can learn how to drive badly.Example today, car in front travelling at 70kph on main road, as soon as tried to overtake on the regulation speed limit, (90kph) on the dotted line,, it decided to accelerate to try and stop me passing.I had to get to 120-140 to complete a safe manouvre. Poor fellow, loss of face, even though he tried to keep up. 

Hello Badger, I am the community manager of ITALY Magazine ;-), ciao! we do ask that these conversations remain friendly or else people won't really feel comfortable to really post what they think. You can take a look at our community guidelines stating here "You can disagree with someone's views and still be polite about it." Thank you! 

There was nothing impolite in the answer that I gave to your comment, apart from the fact that I disagreed with taking the Italian driving exam. I posted what I thought and after driving for nearly 50 years in many countries then it was a fair comment.Please tell me where it was not polite!!  

Hello Badger, I think its safe to say that saying something is 'ridiculous' is not just disagreeing and rather impolite, wouldn't you think so? I think we actually share most of the same opinion on this subject but lets keep the conversation about the topic at hand, rental cars & driving in Italy. I appreciate it! 

I actually find many of the comments here to be quite funny, and I suspect that many of them reflect the same attitude I have seen among many Americans when traveling in Italy, that being a fair amount of dislike and even anger for the fact that Italy is not exactly like what they are used to. They want to see the sights and enjoy the food, but they want the people and their customs to be the same as back home.I lived in Italy for a number of years, was married to a local girl from Naples, and spent all of my free time with locals. What I have long said is that Italy is not just another country, it is another world. Until you come to appreciate that Italians think differently from what you are used to, you'll always have issues. Even then, and even as much as I love Italians, they can still be a very frustrating people. But then, what people aren't?As for thier driving? It can appear to be chaotic and as if italians simply do not care, but that is the farthest thing from the truth. There are rules that all Italians abide by, but they are not the rules a foreigner is going to know until they have spent enough time there, such as which intersections to go right through if the light is red, and which ones to slow down for or even stop at when the light is green.What needs to be understood about Italian drivers is that they do take it very seriously. For many of them it is a competition, a challenge, and even a sport. As for passing on the left, that is merely a reflection of how Italians treat all lines. When buying a train ticket at one of the small stations, the fact you are first in line doesn't automatically mean you will be served next. You have to have your money out and hand it to the cashier, otherwise someone else will step up beside you and get thier ticket first. Why would it be any different when driving?Now, it must be admitted that the Italian concept of safety is not the same as that for most of us in the Western world. The key to safe driving in Italy is to be completely aware of everything going on around you. Too many here in the States take quite a lot for granted when driving, often treating it as no more of a mental exercise than sitting at home in their easy chair. You simply cannot do that in Italy, unless you enjoy being cursed at and having others slam into the side of your car. And, to be even more safe, you have to drive aggresively. You have to show the other drivers around you that you know what you are doing, and when you want to change lanes or make a turn, you have to do it. If you dawdle around about it and look uncertain, they will know it and take advantage of it.Regarding modicasa's comment about letting someone in if they are ahead of you, he is partially correct. There is no requirement to let them in. It depends on how aggressive they are, how badly they want it, and how hard they are going to press for it. As for attempting to do so yourself, if you do not show absolutey that you want that space, an Italian is not going to give it to you. However, if the bumper of the other car is ahead of the bumper of your car and you collide, no matter who is in reality at fault, it legally will be your responsibility. In other words, if it happens behind your front bumper, you're not responsible for it. In all the years I spent living and driving in Italy, the single crash I had was my fault, due to following another driver too closely. Hardly an indictment of Italian driving.Lastly, driving in Italy is a dance. Complicated, yet a dance none the less. And as with all dances, you have to learn the rules.

Good post Randy. The thing that most of us have to remember in Italy and driving, is that you have to have eyes in the back of your head, as well as the front.In my 4 years of driving in Saudi Arabia, I had to have eyes on all 4 sides, so Italy is a doddle after 10 years living here. I have also driven in France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Mauritius, Thailand, Malaysia, and of course the UK.Vehicles have limitations, as do the drivers. Push either of them too far and you have the accident scenario. In many ways, I have been lucky, as having driven in road rallies, then I can pretty much anticipate what is likely to happen, but I do not condone or give way to idiots.Yes, the Italians are pushy, but that does not mean you have to let them get in front, as it is quite easy to outdrive them, even at my age. In fact I love the challenge. Just wish had bought the Supra2 Turbo before coming here, but looked at the roads and they were so poor, it was like driving in Cambodia or Vietnam. 

my advice to drivers: stay on the right lane on major highways and always check the rear mirror: worst Italian driving habit is coming up FAST on your rear end, honking or flashing of lights and then passing and then CUTTING sharply back in front of you almost clipping you.Second thing is cell phone drivers: these types drive way too SLOW! they slow down suddenly, are totally unconscious of other drivers. Third: too many big dangerous trucks on roads that are too small with little or no shoulder.Otherwise, I love driving in Italy!

Normal Italian driving. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured. The organisers should have been prosecuted for allowing spectators to sit on the virtual exit to a 90 degree bend. In my years of road rallies I have never seen such stupidity, but then, this is Italy.

This thread went to bed some time ago, but thought it may be a good time to revisit it again.Italian drivers are pretty much incompetent with anything.GJ who I think is in her mid 20's, says we should all be taking the italian driving test. My wife was learning to drive in a Masserati Quatroporto a little younger than her. Her later cars were Jaguar E type, ( engine and wheels stolen in Milan ), Austin Healy 3000, plus a few ferraris and big mercs, Astons etc, as her father was sales director of Mercedes Park Lane in London.My life in the early days, was converting american cars to go faster, as we had a few American bases nearby. 

Super easy, no issues, agree w. other posts, stick to the big companies, pay more you won't be sorry.Also you may be able to drive with just a US drivers license, I have never taken my international one with me in my many years I have been stopped only a few years and the US license was "OK".  Thing to remember about the actual driving part: Italians come up aggresively behind you to drive you to the left of the road and pass with a sharp cut in front of you. Relax just drop back you' ll be fine.  In small cities, they tend to "blend" in and all accomodate each other cutting in. However on circles its very important to remember those ON the circle have the right of way.