Don't Make These Crucial Transportation Mistakes When You Go To Italy For The First Time

The ruins of Pompeii, the glamorous beaches of the Almafi Coast, the art in Florence, the food in Sicily — there's a lot to see and do on a trip to Italy and a lot of miles in between all the "can't miss" spots. Arranging transportation between the sights is an important part of planning your first trip to Italy, but if you have decided to rent a car to save money or to rely solely on the train for your travels, hold your horses! There are some major drawbacks to both of those choices, as they may not be the budget-friendly and convenient solutions you think they are.


If you have traveled mainly only in North America, it's easy to look at a map of Italy and think you can do it all in one trip. It looks so small compared to Texas or British Columbia, after all. While Italy is only about 75% as big as California it is actually a very long country and many of the tourist spots are not close to each other. To make the most of your first time in Italy, pick a few of your heart's top desires to visit rather than trying to see everything and then start plotting your route, making sure to look at all your transportation options.

Mistake one: Traveling in Italy only by train

Undeniably, there is a romance to traveling through Europe by train. The beautiful architecture of the bustling stations, the clickety-clack of the cars over the rails, the chance to watch the scenery as it whizzes's all enough to make you feel like you are starring in a sexy James Bond movie (that can't just be me?) And that's not to mention the fact that trains are a greener, more comfortable alternative to flying.


So, the temptation to charge ahead and decide all your inter-Italy travel will be via rail is understandable. However, there are a couple of things you need to consider, specifically your timetable and destinations. If you are sticking to the biggies, like Rome, Florence, and Venice, and have a good idea of when you will be traveling so you can book your tickets well in advance, trains will probably serve you just fine. Know that last-minute train tickets can be expensive and hard to come by. 

If you want to stray into some of the less touristy regions, you will find the convenience wanes. Multiple connections and many tiring hours are in store. In this case, you may find a bus is better suited. Busses are plentiful, go places the trains don't service, and are almost always cheaper than other modes of transportation.


Mistake two: Renting a car to save money in Italy

If you don't have a set plan and want the freedom to go where you want, when you want, renting a car for your first-time Italian vacation sounds like the best bet. But before you put the pedal to the metal, buckle up — a car rental is not the budget option it may first appear to be.


Don't assume that a car rental is cheaper than other modes of transportation; even prepaying is no guarantee of a better rate. Bear in mind the car rental fee is only the start. The cost of gasoline is higher in Europe than it is in the USA, and as The Italian on Tour site points out, the autostrada (highway) has tolls and long waits to pay them, so it's important to factor those costs in. Additionally, you'll need to consider the prices of parking, which is usually an extra charge at hotels. 

Some cities (Rome, Florence, Pisa, Milan) have a ZTL (zona traffico limitato) which restricts vehicle access, so you will need to park outside the zone and walk or cab it if you are visiting an attraction that falls within the boundaries. Lastly, don't forget the price of insurance. Italy ranked number six in Europe's most dangerous countries to drive in, so don't get caught without adequate coverage for you and your rental.