June 25, 2012, 10:35 AM
We are a couple who will be visiting Tuscany in July for a total of 6 nights: we arrive into Florence by train and spend 1 night here, and then we are staying in a farmhouse in Gaiole in Chianti for 5 nights. After this we then travel from Tuscany to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre.
I just want some advise on the best way to get from Florence to Gaiole and from Gaiole to Monterosso. Our plan is to rent a car when we leave Florence. My question is, what is the best place to rent the car?
The reason I ask is that I have heard that it is a bit crazy driving in the cities, is this the case? If so, I would be reluctant to drive in Florence, is there a car rental agency on the outskirts of the city? I would not be a nervous driver so if it is OK to drive in Florence I am happy to do this.
In order to get to Monterosso, I was planning on driving from Gaiole to Pisa and hopefully drop the car in Pisa and take the train to Monterosso. Does this seem reasonable?
Could you suggest a car rental agency / agencies which would fit my requirments? ie Be convenient location for leaving Florence and be able to pick up in Florence and drop off in Pisa.
Any advise greatly appreciated, I understand my questions are quite specific.
June 26, 2012, 10:10 AM
rent car in Florence as you leave and return in Pisa or even Florence...
I think you've got a great itinerary planned for your time in Tuscany!
As far as renting a car in Florence, most of the agencies are located in the area around Borgo Ognissanti in the center of Florence, near the Santa Maria Novella train station.
The problem with driving in Florence is generally related to traffic, not enough parking and with downtown Florence being a "limited traffic area", special permits to drive downtown. But rental cars have these permits - you need to drive out and to the agencies to pick up and return cars!
Take a look at our article about renting a car in Florence, it has a map with the area where the rental agencies are as well as a general search for rental cars from various companies - you can compare rates better this way.
Since you're planning on getting the car as you leave Florence to Gaiole, I don't think you'll have problems with renting from one of the agencies downtown - they'll tell you the best streets to take to get out of the center (since so many are one way streets, you really do need to get some guidance as you leave).
From Florence to Gaiole: the fastest way is to the A1 from Florence to Montevarchi, and from there head in to Gaiole. This takes about an hour.
If you don't mind going slower, I'd suggest going through Chianti as part of the ride so that you can see the wine region's various landscapes. From Florence head toward Grassina and take the "Chiantigiana" road (SR222) and pass through Greve, then Panzano and then cut east through Radda to finally arrive in Gaiole. The ride doesn't take much longer, but you'll definitely want to stop, take some pictures, maybe stop for lunch and just take your time. I suggest you read this article to get more tips on other roads around Chianti.
From Gaiole to Monterosso: Drop-off in Pisa also sounds like a good idea - the Cinque Terre are definitely better to reach by train and a car there is unnecessary since once parked, you won't be using it at all.
Most of the large rental agencies do allow for pick-up and drop-off in different locations, but you'll have to compare rates and see which one is better for you through searches. Another possibility, if drop-off at a different location is much more expensive, would be to return the car in Florence and take the train from Florence to Monterosso - it takes about 2.5-3 hours to reach Monterosso depending on train schedules.
Hope you're enjoying the trip planning and, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!!