|Subject: Re: Driving in France and Italy|
Well, Beverly, you are sure getting a lot of opinions!
If you are only going to hit big cities, don't even think about a car. If you want to see the charming hill towns, etc. you really should get a car. In Italy, driving off the autostrada is really enjoyable, wonderful scenery and, contrary to some opinions, they are well signed (almost every intersection will have blue arrow signs to the adjoining towns # and of course, Rome. When you get near the center of a town there are concedntric circle signs denoting the centro and soon you will see brown signs with the names of the hotels!). It's a bit challenging in a bigish town to keep on the right road through or out of town# which is why you need to do some planning and know the ROUTE NUMBERS you are taking. Then you can follow the signs for the road numbers.
MAPS: yes great maps are a must. For me anyway. That way you will know the route numbers you need to take! On our last trip I found the totally great Touring Club Italinano maps (they are the green ones) had been made into books! 3 for the country: Nord, Centro, Sud. So convenient # you don't have to try to open a big map while you are driving. I treasure them.
Definitely rent before you go. Much cheaper. If you require an automatic tranny, it will cost you dearly. Struggle with a manual.
On our 1st Italy trip we spent 5 days in Rome and then picked-up a car and meandered to Florence, stopping for lunch in Orvieto and spending the night in Torgiano. I wouldn't have missed those two days. I mean how hard can it be??? Leaving Torgiano, I stopped for gas # my first fill-up. The guy # dead ringer for the Moretti bottle # literally put down his hoe in the field and came to fill it up. I didn't speak a word of Italian then. I motioned to fill it up. When it cam time to pay, I just took out my money and held it out to him. He was amazed and preceded to tell me # all in Italian # that I must never do that. Then he took all my cash and spread it out on the hood of the car and gave me a currency lesson! Now, if I had not driven, I would never have had that wonderful experience. There is another little driving story I told in a thread on Tuscany Information. I put (Italian Autostrada) in the subject. It's a hoot!
Just have fun. Don't be scared.