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Car Hire or Shared Ride? Which is Better?

A question I hear quite a lot is whether a shared ride shuttle is better than a hire car. The answer of course is that this is the wrong question – both have their place, and their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take an example country: Italy. Airport transfers or hire cars are both freely available, but which is more suitable? Let’s look at some comparisons – for convenience, I’ll be assuming your flight touches down in Rome, though Italy actually has many airports to choose from.


In terms of price, it’s no contest and the shared ride inevitably wins hands down. Rome airport shuttles are far cheaper than hiring a car, because you’re only paying for one or two journeys, and there’s no need to purchase petrol yourself. On the other hand, if you’re planning on doing a lot of driving, then the hire car works out quite cheaply – certainly more cost-effective than getting taxis, buses or trains everywhere! Overall though, if you’re looking to save money, then a hire care most certainly isn’t for you. Rome airport shuttles will take you to most of the major Italian destinations in the most cost-effective way possible.


Effort depends on the person to a degree. If you’re the kind of person who finds driving relaxing, then you may find an Italy airport transfer a little frustrating! On the other hand, I know plenty of people who will find the idiosyncrasies of driving in a foreign country anything but a relaxing process, and certainly not what they’d call a holiday! From the process of getting used to a temporary car’s feel, handling and foreign design to the confusion of dealing with another country’s Highway Code (and driving on the other side of the road!), and struggling to read the map, it certainly can be a lot to take in. With a Rome airport shuttle, you’re guaranteed a smooth ride from a professional who is used to the country, the vehicle and the map!


This one is actually quite close, and hard to call. On one hand, with an Italy airport transfer, you will need to hang around until the allotted departure time, and the set route means you may need to make a number of stops if you’re the last hotel on the list. On the other hand, getting your hire car from the airport – especially if you haven’t booked – isn’t always a quick process either, and there may be a lot of documents and waiting before you’re ready to drive off in your temporary set of wheels. There’s also the issue of directions here – while a shared ride’s driver will know the routes to the hotel like the back of their hands, the same cannot be said for tourists visiting a country for the first time! And trying to listen to directions in a foreign language isn’t something I’d wish on anyone!


All this is minor compared to the convenience of the whole thing – that’s what holiday transportation is all about when it comes down to it. If you’re planning to explore all over Italy – and especially the remote Italian countryside where public transport is hard to come by – then the chances are that you’ll need a hired car of some description. On the other hand if you’re planning a city break in Rome, airport shuttles provide the one bit of transport you need. Who really wants to be driving all the time when they’re just exploring one city?

Rome – All Year Round – and Much Cheaper With a New Pass

Not only within the city but also the seaside is wonderful. To travel without problems the Municipal Authorities of Rome and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, in conjunction with ATAC, have launched the Roma Pass. This new plan expects to make it possible to use the Roma-Pass card for means of public transportation that leads from the capital to the sea and supplementary services at seaside establishments. Roma Pass is the capital’s first cultural tourist card offering discounts and services to encourage visits to the city museums: it will allow tourists and other visitors to enjoy the sights of Rome.

The pass costs € 20 only and entitles holders to: free admission to the first two museums and/or archaeological sites visited, full access to the public transportation system, reduced tickets and discounts for any other museum and site visited, as well as exhibitions, music events, theatrical and dance performances and all other tourist services.

Roma Pass comes with a kit that includes:

* Roma Pass Transport: your public transport ticket;

* Roma MAP: a map of the city illustrating the location of tourist information points, underground stations, museums/sites of interest (addresses, phone numbers, buses and underground stations, timetables);

* Roma Pass Guide: the complete list of museums/sites of interest that have joined the initiative;

* Roma News: the programme of events and tourist services that are eligible for discounts divided by area of interest: art, music, theatre, dance, entertainment and sightseeing tours.

For the best accommodation information in the city of Rome check www.dde-europe.com

Do’s and Don’ts when Traveling Alone! – Rome Excursions

Perhaps you’re one of the few who basically don’t like to be around people for too long, not to mention have them as your traveling companions. What else can you possibly do? For those who are taking Rome excursions entirely on their own, there are certain do’s and don’ts that you may want to follow:

1. Avoid driving as much as possible. Though Rome can be one of the most beautiful places you can ever been, it doesn’t mean they have the best traffic system. First of all, there are many erratic drivers. What’s more, you have to deal with a number of other elements including moped, trams, and pedestrians. Thus, during Rome excursions better leave your car in your hotel and simply walk. You can get a better feel of what it’s like to be walking along Roman path.

2. Know the taxi services. If you can’t basically handle Rome excursions by foot, or you simply don’t like taking the tour bus, at least rent a taxi. The driver knows the city too well, so he’s an expert in going around traffic jams. Take note, though, that you should only pick white and yellow taxis, for they’re the official ones. The meter also starts to run not on the moment of picking up but after you both placed down the receiver. There’s no need to give them any tip, unless you’re generous enough to do so.

3. Go for hotels with terminal transportation. Sometimes Rome excursions can start at some point, and your hotel may be located not quite near it. You can save a lot if you can reserve room accommodations in hotels with free terminal transportation.

4. Get rid of tourist traps. It’s not unlikely that the Romans are not only popular for their arts but also for their food as well. Ever tasted their pasta? Definitely, you’ll know what ambrosia is. However, there are also several pretentious cafes around. When you’re in Rome excursions, make sure you don’t bump into them. Usually, these are restaurants with huge American signs plastered all over their shops. Their cuisines are not original Italian, and their prices are high.

5. Plan your budget. No matter what tour you’re in, you’re still advised to create your own budget. Not all entrance fees are covered by tour prices. So before you can get any more surprised to learn that there’s no way of getting in than paying, then better bring a few bucks with you. If you’ve done any research, ensure that you’ve brought more than what’s stated in their website. Prices can rise so fast.

6. Be comfortable. Skip anything fashionable and go for something comfy. Remember, you’re going to do a lot of walking, and high heels can’t certainly give you your much-needed leg support. Rather, put on some rubber shoes or sandals and your well-loved jeans and shirts. It does pay, though, to make a research as to what clothes are fitting in a particular area. For example, majority of Rome excursions can include the Vatican. They’re very strict when it comes to dress code. It would usually mean no sexy dresses, shorts, and tank tops for the women, and no offensive shirts and tattered jeans for men.

In the end, the success of your Rome excursions will largely depend on your taste. If you’re a great lover of history, arts, and culture, then the best way to enjoy the Eternal City and get into its insights would be hiring a local Official Tour Guide which will lead you through its hidden magical treasures.
If not, then you can comfort yourself with numerous cafes and shopping districts found all over the area.

Ditch Drab December and Say ‘felice Anno Nuovo’ to Rome

Do you spend the so-called ‘holiday season’ cooking for masses of relatives, mediating arguments between them, tidying up after them, or just generally counting down the days until you can get out of the house? A good solution if you’re looking at a stressful, boring time is simply to leave the country – going away for New Year’s celebrations can immensely cheer up the bleak midwinter and help you start the year happy, relaxed and positive.

You can be sure of a warm welcome in Italy’s Eternal City, Rome, where the weather remains sunny and mild throughout the winter and there’s plenty to see and do for everybody. Rome in winter is perfect for couples (that’s where ‘romance’ comes from, after all) and families alike, and for anybody looking for a good party!

In terms of getting a feel for Roman life and culture, it’s actually better to visit in winter than summer. During August, Italy closes down as locals go on holiday, many restaurants, bars and clubs shut up shop, and tourists overrun the most popular destinations. It’s also uncomfortably hot, and there’s no football! In the winter you’re likely to meet more real Romans, there are fewer tourists and hence fewer tourist-traps, and you can enjoy the good life at a leisurely pace.

The New Year is celebrated in traditionally exuberant, Italian style here, with massive fireworks displays, street parties and outdoor concerts in the Piazza del Popolo and elsewhere. Local traditions include wearing red underwear on the 31st December to bring good luck in the coming year, and throwing something old or unwanted out of the window at midnight – so you might want to keep an eye out overhead! On New Year’s Day, if you’re awake in time, there’s a huge musical parade ending in St. Peter’s Square. Bands, performers and acrobats will be on hand to entertain children while their parents may wish to recuperate with a good coffee.

Of course there’s much more to see and do around Rome if you have a few days. Its breathtaking architecture, art and historical sites are second to none and when you’ve had your fill of culture it’s also brilliant for shopping, food and drink. Head to the Trastevere neighbourhood for charming caffès, authentic trattorie and bars, or browse the street markets in Campo de’ Fiori and Navona. At this time of year they’ll be filled with delicious traditional Christmas treats as well as the usual fresh, homegrown organic produce.

One thing you will need is a good place to sleep off any excess, and the city is well-appointed with several luxury hotels in central Rome as well as more modest establishments for those on a tighter budget. From there you can wander around and explore the diverse, historic districts all day, then come back to relax in sumptuous surroundings with a heated swimming pool or spa, perhaps a cocktail or two… la dolce vita indeed.

Tiber River Cruise: A New Way To Visit Rome From Its River

Since the end of the jubilee of Rome held in they year 2000, the majority of Rome, in cooperation with the Coast guard of Fiumicino, agreed that the river of Rome, the Tiber deserves more attention for its historical importance.

In fact since that year it has been inaugurated to the boat entrepeneurs the competition to apply for licenses and permissions to perform cruises on different parts of the tiber.

As many people do not know yet, not all the Tiber river is navigable, for the presence of marble steps, remains of old roman bridges and other hidden treasures like lead anchors.

It’s so weird to see how Rome is no more noisy when you go down the travertine steps to join a cruise tour. In fact the white marble walls to protect the city of Rome against the floods from the Tiber river were built during the period of the unification of Italy at the end of the 19th century. These shields are long 6 miles and provide in assuring the security of the city against bad weather and insisting rain.

That Rome was indebted, if not for its origin, at any rate for its importance, to these commercial and strategical advantages of its position, there are accordingly numerous further indications, which are of very different weight from the statements of quasi-historical romances. Thence arose its very ancient relations with Caere, which was to Etruria what Rome was to Latium, and accordingly became Rome’s most intimate neighbour and commercial ally. Thence arose the unusual importance of the bridge over the Tiber, and of bridge-building generally in the Roman commonwealth. In this sense, then, certainly Rome may have been, as the legend assumes, a creation rather than a growth, and the youngest rather than the oldest among the Latin cities.

The tiber is also the third biggest river of Italy after the Po and the Adige that flows in the romantic city of Verona.

The river of Rome has also a very important island, the Tiber Island ( isola Tiberina ) that has the shape of a boat because it remembers the transportation by boat of the sacred animal ( a snake ) and of the worship of the god of the healing Aesculapius from Greece in the IV century BC. The scholars says that this animal jumped off the boat and settled in the Island as signal for the Romans of the place where they had to built the sanctuary dedicated to the god of the healing.

Today this famous Island is connected to Rome with two roman bridges of the II century BC which allow pedestrians to cross very easily the side of the jewish synagogue with Trastevere.

Cruising the tiver river today means to visit three parts of Rome:

1- from Ponte Marconi to Ancient Ostia, famous roman colony and strategic salt harbor for the roman ships arriving from the mediterranean sea;

2- From Ponte Risorgimento until the Tiberina Island with the possibility to see also the bridge wanted by the same pope who built the sistine chapel, sistus IV

3- From ponte Umberto cruising to the northern districts of Rome, with the possibility to admire a wonderful panorama of the dome of saint peter’s basilica designed by Michelangelo in the renaissance period.

Driving experiences while vacationing in Italy

There are agencies at every international airport, but it is best to arrange the rental with your travel agent at home. Some of the Italian rental agencies are affiliated with American agencies that you may be familiar with like Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, etc… The prices are similar to rentals in big cities in America. Make sure that the price quoted is ‘turnkey’. That Value Added Tax may come as a big surprise. Also, the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), that is optional in America where you have insurance, may not be optional in Italy. For those who intend to begin and end in different cities, there are drop-off charges Typically, there are no drop-off charges if you drop off your car at different offices in the same city, for example picking the car up at the airport and dropping it off in the center of the city. This is useful if you intend to end your trip with a few days in Rome. Finally, Europeans usually drive cars with manual transmissions, and you will pay a premium price for the few automatics they keep for Americans.

The cost difference between car and train narrows as you decrease the size of the car, and increase the number of days driven and the number of people in the car. The cross-over point where the car can be cheaper than Italrail and Eurorail is approximately a manual subcompact, with two people for two weeks. A larger car, only one person for just a few days can be pricey.

I can hear you saying, ‘Gasolio is so expensive over there.’ There are two problems with this statement:

The most severe problem with this statement is that ‘gasolio’ is what we refer to as diesel fuel. You will have a large problem if you pick the wrong fuel. You should use ‘benzina’.

You need to think of the cost between sites and the availability of sites without a car. Good price check would for gasoline between Rome and Florence along the Via Cassia: $4.40/gal (approx. 1850 lira/liter at 1600 lira/$) with a car that can go 30 mi./gal for 250 mi. Cost about $37.

If you intend on travelling on the Autostrade, you will have to pay toll. You can find the entrance and exit points as well as the cost from the Autostrade. It takes a little practice to get it right (e.g. “Sel.” means “Select”), but as with most web pages, you can probably stumble through it more easily than you can read its instruction page.

Leaving after your morning cappuccino and pastry, you can arrive in Florence in time for dinner while leisurely enjoying any of the three of the following

Cultural Italy – Jousting of the Saracens

Jousting of the Saracens, is one of the most popular events is the Arezzo area. This is an annual jousting tournament where the men-folk of the local area, get kitted out in armour, mount up and joust in the hope of winning the coveted prize of the Golden Lance. In 2008, this festival will be taking place on Saturday June 1st and there is another later on in September.The whole town goes all out for this event with flag-bearers, trumpeters and people in medieval costume filling the streets. The origin of the festival are shrouded in mystery but it is known that there were tournaments held as far back as 1260! In more recent times, instead of jousting one another, the target has become to hit the shield held by a rotating puppet called the Saracen, so easy feat.To learn about other events in Italy you might enjoy reading one of our other car hire Italy blogs, dont forget that the best way to see Italy is by car rental. Italy is an excellent country to explore for it contains history, culture and some of the finest weather on the continent, so why not check out our car rental Italy options and give Nova a go. How to get there: Arezzo is located in nearly the exact middle of Italy. It is only 75kms southeast of Florence and about 200kms north of Rome. The city is located just off the A1 which runs between Florence and Rome, so if you are travelling between these two cities you could possible drop in and take a look around. If you arent around during the festival, then you could always make a visit to the local churches that feature frescoes of 12th-century crusaders.

Cultural Italy – Miracle Players at the Roman Forum

Miracle Players at the Roman Forum is an English language theatre group who are performing in the Ancient Roman Forum. This group comes to Rome every summer and frequently play to huge crowds as they are very popular with the locals. Their down-to-earth and family friendly comedy style is usually a hit with everyone. The plays are usually only around 40 minutes long so even the younger members of the audience shouldn?t get too bored.

In 2007 the comedy play ?Caesar – More Than Just A Salad? and was a major success. This years production is called the ?The History of Rome – Part One?; how they manage to get over a thousand years of Roman history into a 40 minute play is pure genius by the plays writers. Any fan of Monty Python will be a fan of the Miracle Players’.

The play is being performed in the Roman Forum from June 20th to August 8th, and the shows are performed on Fridays at 7.30 pm. If you are around the Roman Forum area at this time, drop in and take a look as the shows are free and you do not need to make a reservation.

How to get there: The Roman Forum is located close to the Piazza Venezia in the city centre. There are several bus routes that stop on Piazza Venezia and these include the 64, 70, 170, 492, 175, 40, 63, 95, 85, 628, 87, 715, 716, 60, 44, 81, 117, 119, 62. Alternateively you can take the Metro B to Colosseum and then walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali to the forum.

This comedy production is just one of a large number of things you can do and see while in Rome, so for other ideas check out our other Car Hire Italy Blogs. If you are looking to drive out of the city then take a look at our Car Hire Italy options.

Driving experiences while vacationing in Italy – Part 2

We had to drive in Italy. Due to time constraints, driving enabled us to maximize our options and flexibility. Having recently experienced driving a stick-shift on the left side of the road along clogged, convoluted Welsh country lanes, my spouse and I thought nothing of renting a car in Italy. However, after exchanging three different, apparently salvaged, cars and our rental company at Rome’s international airport, we approached the Autostrada with a bit of trepidation.

Italian freeways were slick. Not only was the signposting on the Autostrada effective although somewhat intermittent but easy to interpret from a multilingual perspective. Miniature cars whooshed by us, their drivers pushing the limits of their cars’ engineering specs. We were not alone in our quest for sunshine which, no doubt, could be found just over the rise of the next hill demarcating the southern Tuscan border. Traffic police were conspicuously absent.

After piercing the southern tip of Tuscany, our lurching stomachs heralded the fact that we were in one of the world’s great gastronomic meccas. Our first foray into Tuscan-style’ eating involved a stop at an exit along the Autostrada leading to San Gimignano, where we ate crispy American-style’ nibbles at a restaurant housed inside a freeway overpass. Those greasy spoon/convenience shop/gas station/restrooms were life-savers, especially when traveling during siesta’ in rural areas.

Temporarily sated, we snaked along the highway leading to San Gimignano, via Poggibonsi. The highway was smooth and, again, well-signposted, so we did not encounter any confusion until we hit the town of Poggibonsi. Poggibonsi, although it is a nice, industrial town, seemed to want to trap us in its swirling vortex, as we found ourselves stuck there on more than one occasion. Like threading a needle, we doubled back and re-routed several times before we successfully passed through the eye of town and scored the road to San Gimignano. Our confusion stemmed from the combination of several roundabouts in close proximity, as well as inconspicuous signage on a couple critical turns. The roads themselves seemed to conspire against travel to one of the jewels in the Tuscan crown.

Throughout the rest of Tuscany, however, we encountered very little driving difficulty. Obviously, medieval village roads are claustrophobic for even the smallest vehicles, so we parked outside city walls and strolled in. Tuscany is also quite hilly, and we consistently under-allocated the time required to reach our destinations.

All told, driving in Italy afforded us the flexibility to visit many places, such as wine shops, chocolatiers, and Etruscan ruins, that we may not have otherwise been able to access. Other intrepid, road-savvy wanderers should not hesitate to hit the Autostrada!

Venice, Italy: Where to go and what to see with your car hire!

What?s to see in Venice?

While you are in the city you could visit such attractions as Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice and the Jewish Museum, the Rialto market, the Rialto Bridge and don?t forget to take one of the traditional gondolas for a ride.

What?s to see in the Venice Area?

Venice has much to offer the curious tourist, both inside and outside of the city.

As Venice is an entirely pedestrian city, you will not be allowed to bring your car into it. There are huge car parks located for cars just outside the city on the mainland in the town of Mestre.

Here are some things to see in the Venice area with your car hire:

Situated just to the north east of the city you can find the town of Jesolo, which is home to one of Italy?s finest beaches. The beach is 15kms long and is definitely a must visit for anyone looking to relax, unwind and do a bit of sun worshipping! There is also a waterpark nearby which is sure to keep all the family entertained.

Located further east, roughly 130kms from Venice, you can find the city of Trieste. This city sits right on the border with Slovenia and it interestingly changed hands a number of times, between Austria-Hungary, Italy and Yugoslavia, during the 20th century before finally settling as part of Italy in 1954. It is home to a number of beautiful attractions such as the Roman Ruins, the San Giusto Cathedral and Castle, Miramare Castle and the Grotta Gigante, which is located just outside the city.

If you travel north along the A27 from Venice you will come to the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. This park features some of the finest landscapes south of the Alps and the highest elevation in the park is 2,565m. The park is home to over 1,500 species of flora and a huge selection of fauna in the park such as Red Deer, Roe Deer, Foxes, Martens, and a large variety of birds as well.

Heading west you’ll arrive at Padova, which is one of the oldest cities in Italy. Numbered among its main sights are the Scrovegni Chapel, Saint Anthony’s cathedral, the Palazzo della Ragione and the Prato della Valle that, at 90,000 square metres, is the largest city square in Europe.

Continuing west along the A4 will get you to Verona. This city is most famous for being the setting for Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet. The city, though still a popular tourist destination, is also a much quieter than the nearby Venice. It is therefore ideal for people who would like to get a better look at real Italian culture and less of the commercial aspect seen in Venice and Rome. While here, you simply must visit the Roman Arena that is the 3rd largest amphitheatre to survive to the modern day.

About 20kms further west is Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake and offers some of the most stunning scenery in the area. Though there is little of historical interest but there is plenty of other activities to keep you entertained. There is a big theme park called Gardaland, and is great fun for all the family, and it includes four rollercoasters and about 50 other rides.

Mairead Foley writes for http://www.Novacarhire.com/ where you can book car hire at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world.

Visit Novacarhire.com for all you need to know before you take to the roads in Italy, like where to go and what to see with your car hire. Book your Car hire Venice now.