Home to legendary carmakers like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, Italians are as passionate about their cars as they are about their food and wine. It goes without saying that driving is one of the favorite Italian national past times. From zipping through the city in a compact Fiat to speeding down the autostrada in a Lamborghini Aventador, there’s nothing quite like it. So what is the cost to rent a car in Italy? The quick answer is, it depends. Ranging from €5-10/a day for a sub-compact car in a less populated area to several thousand Euro per day for the Italian supercars of your dreams.
The costs are not limited to simply rental fees, either. Let’s break down all the costs that come with renting a car in Italy, so you can be sure your budget is prepared, and your mind is free to enjoy driving around this magnificent country. For this article, we’ll assume that there’s no extenuating circumstances that are driving the cost of rental cars up (shortage, strike, large event in town, etc.), so we’re looking at costs on the average day.
Where traveling to major cities like Rome and Venice is an easy feat by public mass transit like trains and busses, accessing many of the small, off-the-beaten track villages (which, in my humble opinion, is where you’ll find the true magic of Italy), is only doable via private car, so, read on, and let’s get an idea of your budget.
Cost to Rent a Car in Italy from an Agency
This is, for sure, the largest portion of the cost to rent a car in Italy. This cost will vary depending on the type of car you’re renting, where you’re renting it from, and how long you’ll be renting it for. In general, in the larger cities, you’ll see somewhere between €20 – €75 per day for a small, compact car, up to €1,500 – €3,000/day for an Italian supercar. This cost will fluctuate depending on the agency you rent your car from. When you’re deciding on your car for your trip, do be sure to take your luggage into consideration. If you’ve got a party of 4, you’re going to want to make sure that trunk has enough room for your bags (and check our our complete guide to packing for Italy to make sure you’ve got everything you need without over-packing).
Large, multinational agencies like Hertz, or aggregators like AutoEurope, who work with all of the major agencies, will often have higher prices, but they also tend to include more of the fees, and have less hassle. Smaller, more local outfits like Maggiore and Locauto will advertise much lower daily rates, but the cost will still get tacked on when you start adding up the fees, insurance and taxes. Some of the smaller, local companies can be a bit of a hassle, as well, so be sure to check online for reviews before you have your trip soiled by a bad experience, and read the terms and conditions closely.
When you pick up your car, do not breeze over the pre-rental inspection. Go over the car with a fine-toothed comb and make sure any damage you see is documented, or you’ll be stuck paying for it at drop off. When you return your car to the airport, be sure to have a little cash on you – there are often fees you will need to pay upon drop-off.
CDW Insurance is Mandatory
In Italy, CDW (collision damage waiver) insurance is mandatory when renting a car. While many credit cards, especially travel-focused cards like the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire, offer rental car insurance, many do not offer coverage for Italy. Before you get on that long flight to Italy, give your card company a call to double check, so you know what you need to do when you get to the counter. CDW coverage at the counter will run you between about $24-55 per day.
One thing to note – theft from the car is not covered by CDW insurance (of course, this only covers collision damage), and it can be an issue in certain locations in the country, especially in the south, and on Sicily. Do not leave your valuables in the car at any time. It also doesn’t cover risky behaviors (like drunk driving).
Rent From Your Home Country
When traveling to a country like Italy, preparation can be key. Last minute “walk-up” reservations at the rental desk can be significantly more expensive than pre-paying. There are also additional fees that are levied within bookings made in the EU that can be avoided by booking from your home country if you’re from outside of the EU.
Tolls in Italy
One thing many people forget to include in the cost of renting a car in Italy is the tolls. Most of the roads that connect the towns and cities are toll roads, and the costs of the tolls are nothing to sniff at. You can find yourself at €30-€50 in tolls in the blink of an eye. Be sure to check your routes ahead of time, so you can be prepared with the cash for tolls, just in case, as not all toll plazas accept credit cards.
Fuel Prices in Italy
Fuel prices, as a whole, are much, much more expensive in Europe than they are in the US. The high fuel prices we in the US are seeing today, are, more or less, what the Europeans have been seeing for a long time. As of the time of this article, fuel is sitting around €1.75/litre, (or about 6 USD/gal), so plan accordingly.
International Drivers Permit
Did you know that this was a thing? Technically, an International Driver’s permit is mandatory to drive in Italy. Now, you’re not going to get asked to present this at the counter, but if anything happens while you’re driving (you get pulled over/there’s an accident/etc.), you’ll be in trouble if you’re not able to produce one. If you’re planning on doing a lot of driving during your trip, it’s best to just pay the $20 and grab one. They can be picked up at AAA.
While all these factors add up and can make renting a car in Italy sound like more of a hassle than it’s worth, remember that a good portion of the country is only able to be accessed via car. Many of the amazing small towns and villages that dot the countryside are inaccessible by bus or train. In a country as beautiful and with as rich with heritage as Italy has, exploring these non-touristy corners of the country is really seeing the real Italy, so do a little prep-work, book that car and enjoy the absolute splendor of Italy.
Using GPS in Italy
If you’re renting a car in Italy, we strongly suggest that you make sure you have cellular data to run the GPS. It will likely cost the same or less as renting a GPS at the rental agency, and will come in much more handy. Check out our rundown on using your phone internationally here to figure out what you need to do for your plan.
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