Driving in Italy: Most Requested Advice

We have put together some really helpful and practical advice of things you should know about driving in Italy in the blogs linked below. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from our guests for our vacation rentals in Italy.

What is it like driving in Italy?

The roads are good and the signage is good. With GPS, navigation is usually pretty good. But you do have to pay attention while driving. The roads and the lanes on the highways are narrower than what you are probably used to. Drivers on the highways may drive really fast and may tailgate. Drivers in the larger cities may be aggressive. In cities there are many motorbikes that dodge around moving cars dangerously.  Whether or not you are using GPS, the words you hear or read are probably unfamiliar so you have to pay close attention to signs. The traffic signs are  totally different and you must review them or you can get into accidents by doing things like going the wrong way on a narrow one-way street or ending up in a pedestrian area surrounded by police.

I’m a nervous driver, do you think I should drive in Italy?

No. If you are a nervous driver and no one else in your group is comfortable driving, then we recommend stays in the cities where a car is not necessary. Italy Perfect city guests receive private driver recommendations for relaxing country excursions.

I’d like to explore the countryside in Tuscany, what do you think about driving around there?

It is a lovely thing to do. Just leave your cares behind and let things take as long as they do. Enjoy getting lost and discovering beautiful vistas and charming villages. Don’t combine driving with wine tasting;-) Instead of driving yourself you might go with a small group tour or private service who know the best wineries and restaurants for your enjoyment. Beware of the ZTL when driving in Florence.

Since most destinations have several routes that will, eventually, get you to your destination, it is best to plan your time in advance if you take scenic routes. Especially if you are checking into a vacation rental where there isn’t staff on duty 24×7 to welcome you.

We are planning to visit the Amalfi coast by car, will it be a fun trip?

The drivers in that area can be pretty impatient. They have to deal with narrow roads along cliffs that adapt to mountainous geography while tourists bumble along slowing them down.  Grrrr. They dart out from side streets forcing you to brake suddenly or careen around you in a curve. If you have a calm and experienced driver in your party, don’t hesitate. If you don’t, take the train and/or hire a driver.

Who should we rent a car from?

Based on our experience, we recommend Auto Europe. They seem to be able to get the best prices. We find, even if we are renting for the next day, we get a better rate from AutoEurope online than if we go directly to the rental office. When a random charge shows up on your bill, just call Auto Europe, they will straighten it out.  They have some good helpful articles, too. Italy Car Rental FAQ and Driving in Italy.

Links to Italy Perfect’s popular blogs on this topic
Drive to these lovely Italy Perfect Vacation Rentals
Riposo Verde in the Hills near San Casciano dei Bagni
Regina Bella near Montecatini Terme


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Day Trip from Rome? Four terrific destinations.

Exploring Rome can take a lifetime, but if you can carve out time to see what lies just beyond the city, here are some easy day trips  from the Eternal City. You can reach most by train or bus, as well as by car and private driver, see suggestions at the end.

Ostia Antica, Ancient Ostia, gives you a chance to see the ruins of a 2000-year old Roman city that is one of the best examples of what ancient Rome must have looked like. Much of the ancient city has yet to be excavated but visitors can enjoy a less touristy atmosphere than at the Roman ruins within the city. Read a nice overview from Rick Steves. Ramble about Ostia’s Roman amphitheater and adjacent city ruins that, in many ways, is a good alternative to a much longer trip to Pompeii.

The Etruscan Necropoli of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. You can’t go to Rome without learning about the fascinating Etruscans, an amazingly sophisticated society that was the predominant civilization in the Italian Peninsula from about 800-300bc. (Guess where the name for the region Tuscany came from?) The Etruscans preceded the Latin/Roman civilization and passed on to Rome the alphabet and art that they had learned from the Greeks while they traded throughout the Mediterranean. They even invented the arch used so well by the Romans.  The necropoli, UNESCO World Heritage sites of these two “cities of the dead” consist of “towns” of house-shaped tombs in Cerveteri and underground tombs in Tarquinia depicting the deceased partying in the afterlife. Visit the museums in the towns of Cerveteri and Tarquinia for displays of the wonderful art and relics from the tombs. Continue reading Day Trip from Rome? Four terrific destinations.

Foodies Love This Florence Apartment & Neighborhood

Typical Florentine Street

There is so much to like about the charming Quercia apartment in Florence. Quercia meaning “oak” is pronounced ‘quare (like square without the  s)-chee-uh’. Many guests start enjoying Quercia with local dining. The San Frediano neighborhood is known for its famous restaurants that include Al Antico Ristoro dei Cambi, Trattoria Diladdarno, Il Santo Bevitore, Il Guscio and more. Tuscan specialties to enjoy are the world famous bistecca fiorentina, the finest beef steak in Italy from Chianina cattle, pappardelle al cinghiale (wide noodles with wild boar sauce), wood-fired pizza and, of course, the wine!

San Frediano Church by the Arno River

In the local San Frediano neighborhood you find yourself in a village within the city of Florence. The famous Florence sites are a close walk. And the local neighborhood has its own high points such as the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine and the handsome gate in the 13th century city wall of San Frediano. In the local cafe where you can order your morning cappuccino or an aperitif before dinner, you can enjoy the expressions and hand gestures as the local citizens banter with the barista.  Children zip around on their bikes. Neighbors pause and leave flowers in front of the ancient Madonna and Child Tabernacle at the end of the street. The local craftsmen stand at the entrance of their shops and nod “buon giorno” as you wander through.

Quercia Apartment Terrace Garden

The Quercia apartment is on the ground floor and has a large private terrace and garden. The building is more than 300 years old;  you can observe the traditional techniques of the masons and carpenters who built it by admiring arched brick ceilings, wood beams and handsome rustic exposed stones along the hallway wall. A special feature  is the nice patio off the living room where you can enjoy relaxing or dining. The apartment is well organized and thoughtfully furnished as well as affordable. Discount for July & August 2017 stays! See Quercia apartment photos, video and full description by clicking here.

Quercia Apartment Living Room

Contact us to reserve your stay at the Quercia apartment.

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Breaking News: Genoa Thwarts Airport Pesto Restrictions, World Reacts

Summer’s Here – Bring on the Pesto!

Rapallo near the city of Genoa

Dramatic news last week with the the city of Genoa announcing that travelers departing from Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo airport are now permitted up to 500 milliliters (about 2 cups) per passenger in carry-on baggage, thwarting otherwise strict rules prohibiting liquids, creams, gels and oils. Anxious travelers can now breathe a sigh of relief not to have their precious pesto cargo confiscated, provided it is authentic Genovese pesto, certified for authenticity and safety for a “fee” of €.50 Euro cents. Happily, the fees are donated to charity.

Continue reading Breaking News: Genoa Thwarts Airport Pesto Restrictions, World Reacts

Italy Perfect’s Most Requested Advice: Do’s and Don’ts

Fortunately Italy is a welcoming country, happy for its visitors and proud of its own fine culture. No need to worry that you might not fit in like a local, but here here a few gentle suggestions or cautions to avoid awkward or embarrassing situations.

Don’t picnic (eat or drink) at the sites like monuments, cathedral steps and fountains. It is a new restriction that might get you shooed off or you may be asked to pay a fine of up to €240 Euros.  We recently watched a very polite but firm Italian official scold people who were eating ice cream cones on the Spanish Steps. Instead, do stroll with your gelato or enjoy relaxing at a sidewalk cafe while enjoying your snack. Continue reading Italy Perfect’s Most Requested Advice: Do’s and Don’ts