The first thing to consider when renting a car in Italy is to get one just big enough for your needs. We learned it the hard way when we were faced with the daunting task of driving an eight-seater (for seven people) in the country roads in Provence last year. The small Fiat we had this time was just fine for the two of us. It was easier to manoeuvre in the narrow and winding roads in the Lake Como district in the north of Italy and finding a snug parking spot was not an impossible dream anymore.
On the whole, Italian drivers were no worse than their counterparts in North America. Surely, they used their horns much more liberally and many would whiz past us in full speed when we were picking our way gingerly along the single lane mountain roads, but that happened here too. The biggest adjustment we had to deal with was their road signs. Even in a tourist destination like Lake Como, the Italians still did not want to divulge too much information. Signs were posted on the points of entry and departure to tell us where we were then but that was about it. Without a map at all times, we would have no idea as to where we were heading next. You would think they had to do better in the highways. Think again. We drove about 120 kms to Verona one day from Como. That particular highway ended in Venice. If we didn’t know that was the right way according to the map, we would be really worried because they gave no indication that Verona was on the same route. Only the name of Venice and the distance to it was occasionally posted. We had to gauge for ourselves the approximate mileage to any other city along way. They did put out little signs on the left when we were close to Verona and fortunately we did not miss them.
From our London experience, we learned to return our car prior to going into Milan and used their subway. We bought day passes which would allow us to make unlimited trips within the city boundary. For a two day pass, we only paid 5.50 euros. It was a good deal. The subway system was fast and efficient and not difficult to figure out at all. We found that driving in the country but taking public transportation in the city yielded the most flexibility.
To watch Lake Como video click here
To watch Verona & Milan video click here