Travelling to and in Italy by Car
In Italy roads are good, not surprisingly since the ancestors of today’s Italians, the ancient Romans, were superb engineers. It’s in their historic DNA, so to speak.
Motorways or freeways are excellent (sometimes built on incredible systems of mountain tunnels and viaducts), but they are not always free. There is a distinction here. For autostrade (singular: autostrada) there is a toll to pay; superstrade are usually free.
Italy’s main motorway is the A1, although Italians don’t normally call autostrade by numbers, but by their two terminals, like Milano-Laghi (Milan-Lakes), Firenze-Mare (Florence-Sea), Genova-Torino. You’ve got the idea.
Sometimes motorways have nicknames. The motorway from Genoa going West all the way to the French border, stretching over the “Riviera di Ponente” (the western riviera of the Liguria region) is called “Autostrada dei fiori”, after the flower-growing area it goes through. The A1, which runs through all the length of Italy from Milan in the North to the toe of the Italian peninsula’s boot in the extreme South, is universally known as “Autostrada del sole”, because it leaves the fog of the River Po Plain to find the sun in the deep Southern regions.
Renting a car is fine, except when you go to places squashed between mountains and sea, in which case you’d be better off travelling by train or even by ferry or boat service. There are in Italy some areas like that, for instance the Cinque Terre, a coastal, wine-growing district of the Liguria region, in north-west Italy, which is very popular due to its extreme natural beauty, clean and environmentally protected waters, and historic treasures.
At the opposite end of the driving spectrum you’ll find, in the southern region of Campania (whose main city is Naples, the “capital of the South”), the Amalfi Coast, which is difficult to reach by train and where road travel is an imperative, not just as a means of transport but also to experience the spectacular, unbelievable Amalfi Drive coastal road, which will take your breath away in more ways than one.
Hiring a Car in Italy
Here are some of the car hire companies and comparison websites with extensive coverage of Italy and online car rental reservations, with links to their websites.
is a long-established leading rental car company with some of the best customers’ reviews.
was founded in 1958 as a car rental company for the “budget-minded” customer. Today it has about 3,500 locations in more than 120 countries, including Italy, and is one of the world’s largest car hire suppliers for people who want value for money.
has been a top brand in worldwide car hire for more than 65 years (founded in 1954) with more than 10 million customers. It searches the best suppliers like Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget, National, Dollar, Buchbinder and Peugeot to find the best rates at 20,000 pickup locations in over 180 countries worldwide.
It offers free cancellation Up to 48 Hours Before Pickup, Best Rate Guarantee and 24/7 service hotline from pickup to dropoff.
It’s based in the USA (Maine), but when you arrive on its website you can choose your own country of residence.
Here’s the direct link to Auto Europe’s page on car rentals in Italy:
lets you compare prices from over 1,200 car rental agents across 30,000 locations in 174 countries.
You can make a search for the car you want from here:
is not just for car hire but, as it’s a well known name, you probably already know that. It’s rather a comprehensive travel site for all sorts of needs, from flights to hotels, from car rentals to holiday packages, from holiday deals to guides and insurance.
The advantage of booking together more than one travel service is obviously not only the saving of time and hassle but also it’s cheaper. Here’s the link to Expedia cars, where you can choose only car, or car with hotel and/or flight and so on, if you wish:
If you live in the UK, you can use a similar aggregator, Booking Buddy UK, a Trip Advisor company that compares over 50 travel sites for the best deals for flights, hotels, car hire and holidays.