Car Rental in Italy is undoubtedly the best way to explore the secret places, quaint country villages and out of the way hill towns of the Italian countryside. Unless of course you are great on a bike!
Trains in Italy are excellent and affordable but they're really only ideal if you are visiting the major cities and towns.
To really discover Italy and have a holiday of a lifetime, you need to base yourself in a country town, in the heart of the Italian countryside, and rent a car. These are the type of places I recommend.
If you are going to be visiting only cities like Rome, Turin, Naples or Venice then you are better off without a car rental anyway. The traffic in the major Italian cities is scary, with Naples being by far the worst.
However, should you decide to drive in Rome, Milan etc. you'll need to know where the restricted driving zones are in order to avoid huge fines - here are the essential maps and vital information on all the main ones.
In Venice you'll find driving a little difficult... unless your car floats!
When it comes to car rental in Italy I have tried a variety of car hire companies. Some are good and some are very bad.
Most of the big names like Avis and Budget have always provided me with good service and, while not always the cheapest, they are reliable and you're unlike to encounter any nasty surprises.
The option I now use when travelling is DiscoverCarHire. From experience I've found they seem to offer the best car rental rates.
I had a nightmare in the past when I rented a car from a very cheap and very tiny car rental company and ... long story really... less said the better. The moral of the story is don't make the same mistake.
My advice is to hire your car before you arrive as rates are normally better doing it this way and you have more choice of cars. Stick to one of the better known car rental companies too.
Of course it depends on many factors: your budget, your luggage and the size of your travel group. Some people will rent a special dream car for a few days, that could be a Ferrari rental or a tiny Fiat 500, others hire campervans.
Generally, smaller cars are easier to manage in Italy as driving down some of the narrow lanes in a huge SUV can be rather challenging. I guess that is why the Fiat 500 is still one of the most popular rental options.