No one can dispute that the best way to see any country is by car; although organised trips are enjoyable, there’s nothing to compare to the thrill of getting about under your own steam.
With 80% of Italy being hilly or mountainous, hiring a car makes perfect sense for anyone wanting to break away from the conventional tourist hotspots, and nothing can beat that magical moment when you climb up a winding road and come around a bend to be greeted by il bel paese spread out below you.
It is easy to hire a car in Italy, you can do this in advance on the internet or by phone or just visit one of the many rental companies based at airports or in town. So let’s take a look at the dialogue required to hire a car.
Your first instruction to the salesperson would be, Vorrei noleggiare una macchina (I would like to rent a car). The response may be, Che tipo e per quanto tempo? (What type and for how long?).
Let’s assume you would like a small automatic vehicle for one week, you would respond by saying, una piccola con cambio automatico per una settimana.
Your next question would be, Quanto costa a settimana? (How much does it cost for a week?). Once you have been given the weekly tariff, you may want to ask if there is any special rates available, C’è una tariffa speciale?
It is important at the time of booking to enquire if insurance is included in the price, L’assicurazione è inclusa? The vast majority of companies will have their cars secured on a fully comprehensive policy, la polizza Casco. The salesperson will also tell you if the car uses diesel fuel - diesel - or unleaded fuel - benzina senza piombo.
Once you have signed the contract and driven away, the only thing you need to know is how to fill the tank with fuel to enable you to enjoy the Italian open road. Most Italian service stations have fuel attendants and they will ask you how much fuel you require and administer it for you. You can either ask for an amount in euro for example, venticinque per favore (twenty-five please), or you can just say, faccia il pieno, per favore, (fill it up, please).
Finally, the only other thing you need is a map and the desire to explore at your leisure.