We are frequently asked about car hire and the detail below outlines how we tend to operate when we travel. As with all the information on this website, it is up to you, the traveller to verify the accuracy of the information and to be certain that you cannot get a better deal elsewhere.
We tend to start with a car hire brokers who will do an internet search along many of the major providers – Hertz, Budget etc. This will usually give a better price than going direct to the companies – this should not be, but is a fact of life, it is cheaper. I am going to give links to the brokers lower down this page. The brokers do not take any fee and usually you can get an on-line reservation with the confirmation details printed off at the end of the process. Of course, most if not all will demand credit card details but not all will take payment immediately. It never ceases to surprise me how many will just give a confirmed reservation without any fee being charged – you just pay for the rental when you turn up at the hire desk.
A convertible is often fun, but remember that they cost quite a lot and luggage space can be limited.
Personally, I start with the broker – have a look at travel supermarket you will find it if you do a google search.
and then perhaps try: http://www.kayak.co.uk/cars
At the desk, you will have to have current credit card – it is very difficult to get a car without one and a debit card will not do. The hire company will ‘grab’ a portion of your credit limit – you need to be aware of this – they take damage deposits – fuel payments in case you fail to bring it back full etc. Providing the hire goes well and the car is returned without any extra damage and with a full tank of fuel, this credit limit deposit ‘grab’ is returned to your card. Just a note on fuel – you are often given the chance to bring the car back empty – they say it is cheaper that way as they claim a good fuel price. My point always is ‘how can you bring it back empty’? I guess they rely on the fact that most people will bring it back a quarter if not a half full and thus benefit.
When you hire a car, there is usually a standard of excess of several hundred pounds or euros. Thus, if you accidentally damage the car, you can have this money just taken from your credit card without further recourse to you – you have signed away this right when you take delivery of the car. If it is not your fault, the burden of proof lies with you. If you do not sign away the right, you do not get the car – quite simple.
Many hire companies will offer further insurance to reduce this excess to zero, but the daily fee is usually very high and it is much cheaper to buy daily or annual excess insurance from an independent company. We usually buy our annual car hire excess insurance from :
Traffic violations will catch up with you and in Italy it is a criminal offence to ignore a traffic fine. There are speed cameras – they do catch you (we learned the hard way) and fines will be levies against the car through the hire company. Naturally the hire companies will batter your credit card yet again and will even add insult by adding an ‘administration fee’. As with anywhere, ignorance is no excuse.
Here in Florence, DeiMori is situated in the pedestrianised heart of the city and cars are just not allowed (with the exception of disabled drivers, taxis, emergency vehicles etc. Please never try to drive directly to DeiMori ‘just to drop off our luggage’. All access roads to the centre are monitored by cameras with number plate recognition technology and you will be caught (perhaps several times), the car hire company will be sent a fine and they again will charge you with an additional administration fee.
Much better (not to say cheaper and less stressful) to park away from the centre (parking suggestions on this site appear separately) and take a taxi to DeiMori in Via Dante Alighieri 12.
This situation does not just pertain here. In 2009, we were driving on a toll road in Florida south of Miami, having just arrived. With darkness and ignorance we missed a $1 toll. With ‘administration fees’, this cost is $101. (yes, one hundred and one!).
At the hire desk you will often be offered a ‘sat -nav’. Do a calculation, but with a week long hire, you are probably better to buy one and have it for ever (or at least until it breaks).
All the the airports have car hire offices and in Florence, there are downtown offices all grouped together south of the train station in the ‘Borgo Ognisanti’ area. This is just about a 15 minute walk from DeiMori. Some people do prefer to take a taxi to Florence airport and collect a car from there. there is often a small airport surcharge but the escape tends to be a bit of an easier drive. Also, for the return journey. signs lead the way to the airport, but not that many to Borgo Ognisanti – in fact, none.
Drink driving laws are more stringent than in the Uk – that is, you can legally drink less but you are probably less likely to be caught. Do be aware, spot check are increasing and if caught you are likely to be ‘reported to your home country’ as well as receiving a large fine. In the case of the Uk, a transgression in Italy is highly likely to result in a driving ban in the UK.
Just one little trick – when your flight lands, and you have luggage – one wait at the carousel for the cases, the other go out and get in the car hire queue – can often save an hour!
Drive carefully and enjoy!