Before you take off for Italy, you might have a very romanticized image of renting a car. With the wind in your hair, the Coliseum in the background and you behind the wheel of a vintage Fiat, this image can be very far from what you end up experiencing. It is one of the best ways to reach those vineyards, cliff clinging villages and the far reaches of the boot. However, renting a car to traverse this boot can take its toll on your wallet. While you might think your rental car cost is the price you book with a company, Italy tends to want more beyond the rental rate. Though it might be bubble bursting, by knowing these sneaky charges when you rent a car in Italy, you can better map out a budget for your Italian travels.
Road Tax: Most rental agreements include a number of charges, but they also tend to exclude the road tax charge. This charge is usually anywhere from two to four euros per day, for up to a certain amount of days or up to a certain euro amount depending. While a few euros here and there might not seem like much, the road tax cost can quickly add up for travelers in Italy. For example, I rented a car for 12 days, at a road tax rate of €3.50 per day. My rental agreement did not include the road tax charge. It also charged the road tax up to 20 days, rather than a set euro amount. After 12 days in Italy, my rental car company charged me $57 for road tax. With an original rental price of $280, this extra $57 seemed pretty surprising. While you can’t avoid the road tax charge for the most part, travelers should go over rental agreements before you book with certain outlets. Some might offer a better road tax rate or euro to day limit than others.
Tolls: Italy is chock full with toll roads. The Automobile Association website has a good listing of Italy toll roads and the costs between certain distances. On my recent trip, I avoided toll roads by setting the GPS to avoid all toll roads. However, Italy’s back roads are certainly not as well maintained, with bumpy rides, slow ups through towns every few minutes and longer routes. If you avoid the tolls, your journey could take several hours longer and you might spend more on gas. Again, if you want to stay on the main roads, you can always be prepared and budget accordingly by adding up what your toll charges will be for your specific route.
Parking: I saw my trip budget sail out the window with each parking garage I had to enter in Italy. Parking in Italy is where most travelers’ budgets die. Especially in the case of historic cities, parking garages can be anywhere from €12 to €20 per night. If you think you can avoid parking charges by booking hotels with parking, think again. Seldom could I find hotels on my route that included parking. While there is no set way to avoid parking charges in Italy, you can do your research. Many lots might charge more than the one right next to it. Also, I always asked my hotel if there were any free parking options in town. On occasion, they would direct me to parking lots and spaces a little bit further from town but free nonetheless.
Photo: Alessandro Colle