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From gelato to gearshifts.....

punto.jpg

Sorry, this post actually has nothing to do with ice cream, but I so love alliteration that I couldn’t resist!

I just booked my rental car for my June trip to Italy, and I’m a little concerned that it will be something similar to last year’s Fiat Punto. Which looked a lot like the photo above, although mine was a bit worse for wear. Dented and scratched up here and there, and certainly a big step down from the lovely BMW that Avis gave me the year before. Worst of all, the Fiat was a dual manual/automatic and I think I drove the first day entirely in first gear since I can’t actually drive a manual transmission.

Now, to be clear: I love driving and I don’t mind renting cars, although in Italy I really prefer public transit – especially the train system – because it’s so inexpensive, and very convenient. Most of the time. And you can visit many wonderful parts of Umbria by bus and train.

Yet there are other places you really can’t see without a car. And you can’t stay in country inns as I plan to do, without your own wheels. So, this will be the third year where I’ve decided to rent a car for part of the trip. And each year, I’m renting for slightly longer periods as I get further outside major centres.

Anyway, last year’s Fiat was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t very cool looking, although I would have preferred the funky style of an older Fiat model:

punto1.jpg

But I did NOT enjoy the continued struggle to get the little beast out of manual, or standard, transmission mode and into automatic. And it didn’t have much power. So, this year, I hope I can avoid the Punto and get something a bit more reliable.

I booked through Auto Europe again, and at this point I’ve reserved a compact car for 10 days. Although I may yet change that to a shorter period.

Right now, my plan is to spend a few days in Perugia (sans car) and then take train and bus to meet my friend V. at the house we’re sharing in Anghiari (which is not on a rail line.) We can share her rental car for much of the time we’re in Anghiari, I think. V. is mad about driving and hates public transport, so I know that she will be picking up a rental car the very moment her feet touch Italian soil. Which is fine. She also drives a standard, and since these are much cheaper to rent than automatics, it only makes sense she rents a standard and we share the cost (although not the driving duties) for a while.

We will be going our separate ways after the week in Anghiari; V plans to head north while I head only slightly south into Umbria. I had thought that at the end of our week in Anghiari, I would take the bus to Arezzo, then the train from Arezzo to Foligno in Umbria where I always pick up my rental car (Avis is helpfully located right at the Foligno train station.)

But, I’m now thinking I might as well pick up the rental car in Arezzo a few days before I head to Umbria. We may want to do different things or head in different directions for a day or two, and I’ll then have the car for my drive down to Umbria.

Or, I might change my mind again, shorten the booking, and not bother with the car until I get to Foligno. We’ll see. But I like to get the rental car booking made early – the Avis outlets in neither Foligno nor in Arezzo stock cars with automatic transmissions, so my booking includes an arrangement where Avis has an automatic shipped up from Rome.

Amazingly, in Italy there is no extra charge for that service; nor is there a charge for picking up and dropping off a rental in different locations. I love that – in Canada at least, they charge for everything and the fee for either of those services would be staggering!!!

Still another reason to love visiting Italy, the Punto notwithstanding.

Comments (12)

OMG-I'm getting excited for you just reading your plans! WISH I were going--love the vintage Fiat -- sort of reminds me of the Volvo I first learned to drive -- and it was a stick! Looking forward to reading more of your itinerary.m

Sandra, you are a master of blog post titles, LOL.

I don't know how to drive a manual either. I remember your stories about the big old car you rented one time (was that the BMW?) and how hard it was to find places to park it, so a compact sounds much better. That Fiat is cute!

I laughed out loud at the image of you in a scratched and dented Punto, and struggling shifting gears. (sorry, the images is hilarious).
I can't drive stick shift either, but lucky for me, Bill does and LOVES driving in Europe.
I like your plan of having a car for the last couple of days, but I would think if you and your friend end up wanting to do same things, there would no point in having a car just parked out there, yeah?

sheri:

Hoping for a great car with an automatic transmission. Last time we were upgraded to a BMW.It was really nice!

sandrac:

Hi menehune, thanks! How are your travel plans going? Will you rent a car, too?

Thanks, Annie. I do love writing headlines, I should be working at a racy tabloid! It was the BMW that was hard to park, but it had power, whoo-hoo! Not as cute as the vintage Punto, though.

Candi, it is more practical if V and I can share happily. I'm a little concerned that we may need some space from each other by then....but it might also make more sense if I pick up my rental car the day before we part, which is a Monday and the rental car place will be open. At least, I've got the car booked, so now it's just fine-tuning.

Sheri, I do love an upgrade!

Anne:

I have never heard of dual standard/automatic - how bizarre!! I am hopeful that on my next trip I will be brave enough to rent a car and explore the Italian countryside. Seems every time I think of Italy, my list of places grows exponentially!! I am drawn to both Umbria and the more southern Cilento region at the moment...oh and the Veneto and Liguria and Emilia Romagna and Lazio...neverending dreams!

Barb Cabot:

I have never driven a car in Italy though I have no problem driving in L.A. and people seem to say if you drive here you can drive anywhere. I don't know about that. I've been a passenger when friends are driving and sometimes I just have to close my eyes. Still I would like the access and freedom a car gives. I'm learning alot about rental cars from you.

barb cabot:

I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine Award. It is awarded to bloggers whose positiveness and creativity inspire others in the blog world.
You can pick it up over on my blog at http://followbarbsbliss.blogspot.com/

I love reading your blog. It is awesome and inspiring.
Congratulations !

sandrac:

Anne, it's so true -- the more I know about Italy, the more I want to know!

Thanks Barb, I think I'd be terrifed to try to drive in LA!!

And thanks so much for the Sunshine nomination, I can certainly understand why your beautiful blog was nominated as well!

I think it is great that you will be renting a car again. If only I had the courage to rent. I hope you end up with a good car. Can you decide while in Anghiari whether or not to rent it a couple of days early? I am not sure how many days notice they would need to deliver the automatic. That would give you a little more leeway to have a car if it did not work out that both you and V had similar interests on places to visit during your stay. Love the old Fiat!

Vicky:

I love reading the progressions and mind-changing of your travel plans!!

Dorit:

Sandra,
I also do not and cannot drive a manual shift. Since I always rent a car at the Rome airport I do not have trouble receiving an automatic. BUT, there was one time when they gave me the same dual manual/automatic car that you write about and I did the EXACT same thing as you, i.e. felt like I was riding first gear for a long time before realizing and figuring out how to get out of all that. I complained (I rent from Avis) and the next time I rented I requested that they specifically write NOT dual automatic/manual and that it is an automatic ONLY car. They did not commit but said they would do their best and voila, it was a real automatic the next time. Maybe you should try this angle and it could work for you as well. Have a great time, you lucky gal !!!!

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