Car Hire in Tuscany
If you are looking to rent a car in Tuscany, we highly recommend doing so at the airport. This is because the rates and opening hours are the most convenient there, especially if you are heading to the countryside where it might be challenging to find other car rental options or efficient public transportation.
If you are planning to rent a car in Tuscany, there are a few key things to consider.
- Age, documents and deposit.
If you want to rent a car in Italy, you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver's licence. As in most countries, you will be asked to provide a deposit via a credit card (not a prepaid one). Furthermore, you may be charged an extra fee if you are between the ages of 21 and 25.
- Choose the appropriate car for your needs.
When selecting your car, in addition to the number of people, you should consider that Tuscany's country roads can be narrow, and you may need to drive on dirt tracks, especially if you have rented a villa in the Tuscan countryside. Therefore, it is best to opt for taller cars and avoid overly wide ones.
- Don’t forget to double-check the insurance conditions.
When booking your rental car, evaluate the various insurance options. Rental companies typically offer insurance that covers up to €1500, so make sure to confirm this and understand the conditions for coverage and claims.
- Electric cars.
If you are considering renting an electric car (or travelling with one), we suggest you double-check the charging options. The use of electric vehicles has been increasing in Italy, especially in city centres; therefore it's easy to find EV charging points. However, in the countryside, it is more challenging.
Driving and Parking in Tuscany
Driving in Tuscany offers a fantastic way to explore the region's picturesque landscapes and charming towns. However, to ensure an enjoyable driving experience, there are several things to learn.
The first thing you should be aware of is speed limits. Always check the dedicated signs, but the general rules are as follows:
- 30 to 50 km/h for urban areas
- 70 to 90 km/h for non-urban areas
- 110 to 130 km/h for major roads and highways
Additionally, it's important to note that many highways in Italy are toll roads. You will have to take a toll ticket at the entrance booth and pay at the exit using cash or electronic payment methods. For a stress-free experience, you can inquire whether your rental car has an electronic toll device, so that you don’t have to worry about it while driving.
Another essential thing to be aware of is ZTL, or Zona a Traffico Limitato, which translates to Limited Traffic Zone. Many city centres in Tuscany, including cities like Florence, Lucca, Siena, and Pisa, have restricted zones where only authorised vehicles are allowed.
These zones are often marked by specific road signs indicating the beginning and end of the restricted area. The restrictions typically apply to non-resident vehicles, meaning that only authorised vehicles (such as residents, public services, or businesses operating in the area) can enter during specific hours.
Some ZTLs are in effect 24/7, while others may have restrictions during certain hours or specific days.
Lastly, let’s talk about parking: parking rules in Tuscany can vary based on the specific location and whether you are in a city, town, or rural area. However, there are some general guidelines to follow:
- City Centres.
As mentioned, many city centres in Tuscany have restricted zones (ZTL) where only authorised vehicles are allowed, and parking is strictly prohibited for those without authorization. Be cautious and ensure you are aware of these areas to avoid fines.
- Yellow Lines (Parcheggio per Autorizzati).
Yellow lines indicate spaces dedicated to certain special categories; therefore, these parking spots should be considered reserved and cannot be used. Categories might include: law enforcement, disabled individuals, and residents.
- Blue Lines (Parcheggio a Pagamento).
Parking spaces with blue lines are typically paid parking zones. Look for nearby ticket machines to purchase a parking ticket, and display it on your dashboard.
- White Lines (Parcheggio Gratuito).
White lines generally indicate free parking spaces. However, it's essential to check for local signs or regulations, as some areas may have time limits or restrictions, even in free parking zones. For example, parking might be allowed only for a limited period, so you may need to display a parking disc (see below).
- Parking Discs (Disco Orario).
You might be required to use a parking disc (disco orario) in certain areas. Set the disc to the time you parked, and return before the specified time to avoid fines.
- Parking Garages.
Larger towns and cities often have parking garages (parcheggio coperto). While they may be more expensive than street parking, they provide a secure and convenient option.
- Towns, Villages and Rural Areas.
Like city centres, some towns and villages may have restricted zones or specific parking regulations, so always look for signs indicating rules and permissions. In the countryside, parking is generally more relaxed with fewer restrictions. However, always be mindful not to obstruct traffic and check for local regulations.
Train Journeys in Tuscany
Although we wouldn’t suggest relying solely on public transport to visit the region, especially if you are staying in the countryside, travelling by train in Tuscany is a convenient and scenic way to explore the region's beauty.
All of Tuscan’s main cities are connected by rail network: Florence is the central hub for train travel in Tuscany, connecting various destinations within the region and beyond. Other major cities like Pisa, Siena, and Lucca also have well-connected train stations. Trenitalia, the national railway company, operates the main train lines.
Italy offers various types of trains, including:
- High-Speed Trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Italo).
These trains connect all major Italian cities.The travel times are very convenient, with the ability to go from Florence to Rome or Milan in just 1.5 hours, and to Venice in approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
It's important to be aware that tickets for high-speed trains come at a higher cost, and we recommend purchasing them in advance. Additionally, please note that seat assignments are made when booking.
- Regional Trains (Regionale).
Regionale trains are not designed for long-distance or high-speed travel. Still, they connect cities, towns, and rural areas within regions, providing transportation for daily commuters and travellers exploring less popular destinations. They make frequent stops at numerous small stations, and offer an affordable option for short-distance travel.
Unlike high-speed trains, regional trains do not require seat reservations, and you can buy your ticket last minute. However, you must always validate it before departure (also if it’s an online ticket).
- Intercity Trains.
As the name would suggest, intercity trains connect major cities and towns across the country. Providing a faster and more direct mode of transportation than regional trains, they serve a broader range of urban centres than high-speed trains.
While intercity trains are not as swift as high-speed alternatives, they offer a more affordable option for travel between destinations. Seats are assigned at the time of booking, and in this case, we suggest booking your ticket in advance.
The best place to buy tickets and check train schedules online is the Trenitalia official website. Italo is also a good option for high-speed trains. When planning your train journey, make sure to check if there is a national strike going on, as this can be very problematic.
Travelling by train could be an excellent choice for exploring Tuscany, particularly when moving between major cities. For those with a taste for adventure and a love for fine wine, it’s also great to give you freedom to explore the best wineries in Tuscany. However, we advise against depending on public buses for inter-village transport, as their schedules can be restrictive and may not always be punctual.
Bike Rental in Tuscany
Cycling is a great option if you wish to tour a city or immerse yourself in the landscapes. The Tuscan countryside is dotted with charming villages and historic landmarks, making each cycling excursion an opportunity to explore the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Numerous rental shops are scattered throughout the region that offer a variety of bikes to suit your needs, whether it's a sleek road bike for more adventurous journeys or a comfortable hybrid bike for leisurely rides. Additionally, many rental services provide maps, and suggested routes, and we have put together our very own guide to cycling in Lucca, providing the best routes to ride around the region.
Overall, Tuscany is an excellent destination for cycling enthusiasts. It offers a network of cycling routes, ranging from flat terrain suitable for beginners to more demanding hills challenging experienced riders.
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