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Taking the Train verses Renting a Car in Europe

Before we left for our three week trip to Europe two summers ago. We planned all of the towns and cities that we wanted to visit before we left. The reason that we did this was to decide if we should buy a Eurail Pass purchase tickets separately or rent a car. When we went to the web site of the rail in France and Italy we decided that it would not be cost effective to purchase a Eurail pass. If you are going to spend several days in one city and travel to little towns nearby, it is much less expensive to purchase tickets separately. We bought some of the long destination tickets at home through RailEuropeand had them mailed to us. If you know exactly where you are going in advance it can save you time and help make sure that there is seat availability on popular trains during the summer months. The summer is the busiest time to travel in Europe and if you are going to wait until you get there to buy tickets, your time and date may not be available. Traveling between popular spots like Florence to Rome, Paris to Cannes or Nice or the Eurostar "The Chunnel" between London and Paris. You can book it advance. Sometimes this can save you money since you are not going to use your credit card overseas and they charge you a transaction fee for each time you use your card. If you want to buy the tickets for small trips to local destinations like Cannes to Monte Carlo, or Nice to the surrounding areas, you can go to the local train station and purchase your tickets at an automated machine or go to the counter and ask for help. Most places that we stopped at on our trip spoke some English. We purchased our train tickets for the Trip from Florence to Rome in advance too. This is a very popular destination to travel between.
While we were in Tuscany, We decided it would be necessary to rent a car to visit the small hill towns. We stayed in a very isolated area 5 miles north of Pisa in an Argracultral Turismo, a farm style house with an amazing restaurant and acres of land, swimming pool etc. We definately needed a car to get there. I contacted a few places in Italy and the cheapest price was a company called Maggiore which is connected to Avis. My husband got an international drivers license at the Automobile Club. It is important to get this before you leave the states. They gave us a great compact car and we had no problem driving on the roads in Italy.
The only important thing to be careful for is driving into Florence without a special permit given from the rental car agency. They need to notify the police that you will be driving into downtown Florence. It is very important to find out which areas that traffic isn't allowed. We personally received six traffic tickets which where mailed to us six months after our trip. It showed the photo of our rental driving on the restricted streets. We were trying to return our car to a local rental location which was in the heart of the city. Our rental agency never told us to beware. I am telling you!

Posted by Sheryl W 19:22 Archived in Italy Tagged transportation

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