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Old 03-04-2012, 06:56 AM   #41
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Rent a car and drive yourself and enjoy the adventure. Italy is easy to find your way around. If lost, ask a young person (under 18) as most have taken English in school. I had a 6 speed manual Alpha last time I was there and had no problems. Only issue was I drove into some restricted area in Florance and they sent me a ticket for 130 euros. I must have missed the sign while looking for a specific parking location. (Rick Steves book recommendation) I just wrote deceased on the envelope and sent it back. Probably should have paid it as we now want to go back to Italy and will rent a car. Probably end up in jail this time. But 130 euros because I went around the block to get back to my starting point seems a bit onerous. 20 euros and I would have paid it.

I have rented cars in most countries with no problems. Italy, Germany, Australia, UK, Malaysia, France, Spain, Singapore, and a few others. There are places where I usually get a driver. Mexico City, Sal Paulo, China, India, and a few others. Most because they are very inexpensive or not safe alone and it helps with time management.

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Old 03-04-2012, 11:34 AM   #42
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Another vote for renting a car and driving yourself. We've rented cars throughout Europe including Italy (Tuscany, Umbria). We much prefer being on our own. In general, we take public transportation in cities and rental cars in the countryside.

We always bring a pocket dictionary just in case, but have only had to use it in restaurants w/o English menus . Now with an int'l smartphone, that won't be necessary.

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Old 03-04-2012, 10:48 PM   #43
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Paying $1,000 for a car and driver seems outrageous, even in Italy. (I live in Asia and pay my driver about $400/month to work 12 hours/6 days week (including a food and phone allowance) and he is extremely well paid.

Hard to believe you'd even need a driver in Italy or that you couldn't find one for a few hundred dollars/day at most!
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Old 03-05-2012, 02:59 PM   #44
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I believe the consensus that renting is easier than I had thought. However, right now we're looking into the driver after all, because of the style of our excursion (just a few hours wanting to spend at the natural hot springs). We will pay a few hundred dollars to gain about a day of sightseeing-time. It would make sense to rent if we were staying in Tuscany for any length of time.

I will remember all the tips I've read here though when we go on a near future trip where we do rent.

It means a lot to hear certain things I'd read on faceless websites, from actual people on this board. It really crystallizes out what is the real advice and what is inaccurate.

The driver we're looking at is $850 for a full day. Others were maybe 20% cheaper, but I have a better feeling about this one. All were mentioned a lot on the cruisecritic forums; that was the only way I could assemble a short list.
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:03 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by a View Post
Neither of us have experience driving in unfamiliar, foreign surroundings.

You will be fine driving in Italy! In fact, you will probably drive better than the local driver that you were going to hire... You will be the best behaved driver around.... No, seriously, rent a car with a GPS. You will have much more fun, will be able to stop wherever you see a nice spot (and there are a lot of those in Tuscany) and will develop the confidence to do it again in a more challenging environment ( like in the UK, where they drive on the left ). That will mean more fun for the rest of your life.
I drove all over Europe before they had GPSs.. no trouble at all, other than getting lost occasionally.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:32 PM   #46
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Well, still will most likely stick with the hired expensive driver. At least it'll make me appreciate much more how unnecessary that expenditure was, when I do get the chance to rent.

Lesson is that I need to prepare trips farther in advance, because if I had, I would have had some time to practice stick driving as well as been more able to look at maps and routes for driving ourselves.
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:02 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
The only time we hired a driver was when we visited the Amalfi Coast, when we hired a driver for the day. I wanted to look out the window and see everything rather than keep my eyes glued to the road navigating the switchbacks.
We took the local bus. It departed right in front of the train station of Sorrento. The high seating of the bus gave an excellent view of the coast, while a passenger in a car seat might have problems looking over the walls along the scenic drive. My guide book said there were very few points where one could stop, and that was true.

With the bus, we hopped off at Amalfi and Positano to do some walking around for sightseeing. We also had lunch at a restaurant on Positano's beach, which involved a bit of a hike from and to the highway. A memorable trip!

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