Roma Bound

We are planning to go to Rome next week for a visit and for reasons complicated we have no car to drive up in. The Renault is “resting”  this winter and the little Suzuki is not really made for motorway driving. The plan was always to use rental cars this winter rather than pay the insurance on two cars when only one is ever used.

Such plans seem terribly sensible over a good dinner out somewhere with lashings of wine and a few grappas at the end. Must be cheaper we both agree, use someone else’s car  to do the miles chortle chortle. Brilliant  how do we keep coming up with these brainwaves.

This morning as it were the cold light of day rather dawned though long after I had told Mr. Saga what he could do with his insurance policy and given him rather strong chapter and verse as to why I  was rejecting his premium.

Car rental in Puglia once you dismiss our rather long list of car rental companies ” we will never touch again ”  that we accumulated when first coming down here to house hunt and before we met the kind Italians that now drive us to the airport is quite restricted.

Sicily by Car take huge amounts from your credit card and seem to find it hard to put it back at the end of the rental. Plus they have a reservation system – steam driven is far to good as a description.  My second job in the airline business was doing check-in at Heathrow and even then I seemed to be able to roar through a check in line. What do car rental and these days airlines find to put into the booking that takes so long ?

Europecar we rather fell out with over some scratches that were there before hand and all the off airport rental companies have the most appalling reports written about them on line. So that leaves the big three really Sixt, Hertz and Avis.

I normally used to use Sixt as they seem well organised and the staff always are friendly. However one morning a few months ago for some reason I applied for an Hertz Gold Card from their Italian website after they sent me some junk mail after obviously buying my e mail address from someone else. I did it to make them do something for the e-mail  however they actually sent me a rather fine very shiny gold card and I can collect points on it towards free rentals plus it seems they upgrade my choice of vehicle. So I am hooked. It is somewhat shocking though that in the UK last week I rented an admittedly strange looking Nissan Juke ( it looks like a frog doesn’t it) for £18 a day all up and here a much smaller car is almost €50 a day.

The other fun thing is that the rental companies clearly have to cater for the Italian desire to always pay by cash to keep under the radar. So certainly Hertz have gone backwards as it were in time and if you want to pay by cash at the rental desk you now must pay for your kilometres once over a rather low limit. I would imagine it is another huge money spinner for them. Though not enough it would seem just like Apple, Vodafone, Tre etc to offset the huge cost of doing business here as all say they lose money in Italy.

Driving last week on English motorways I found rather boring after a few years here.  On entry on to the motorway I found myself forcing my way out inches after getting on to the acceleration track and then after the cacophony of hooting had died down from the cars in the inside lane realising that I still had about half a mile of acceleration lane still to go . Where is the fun in that ?  Also road works were child’s play. Miles and miles of cones gradually pushed you gently down into two lanes and then another few miles went by before you saw anyone actually working on the closed lane and then normally they were behind a huge concrete barrier. Here, of course, your first sign of impending road works is a few upside down battered signs , quickly followed by a couple of gnarled lorry squashed cones and then a very brave man with a small red flag and brown trousers. This happens within the space of about 50 feet and then you are in the middle of massive road works with workers all around you whilst cars and trucks are still doing 100 kph. Now that is an adrenaline rush both for the drivers and the road workers. No leaning on the shovel for Italian road workers they must be alert and ready to jump at all times. Also in the UK all the road work areas are now speed controlled meaning you have to come out having driven through at a constant speed of 50 mph. Now Italians have had this for years with Traffic Tutor and have learnt that you can speed for a distance then crawl for another to liven up the drive. I missed being passed by cars doing 90 mph and then passing them doing 20 mph a little later. Italians would have a ball on UK motorways as most seem to have tons of road works though I’m told many of them are there as money earners for greedy councils.

Still it will be fun to get back on to the Italian motorways. Hope Mr Hertz enjoys it as much.

 

About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally Thomas Cook. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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2 Responses to Roma Bound

  1. royburnham says:

    Mike – good luck with the rental. I used Firefly who are the Holiday Rentals agent. A bit like Ryaniar their airport rates are for their base about 5 kms from the airport and EXTREMELY hard to find when returning the car! However they were cheap and don’t debit the card with any deposits in advance. The car was fine too.

    I endorse your very amusing remarks about the access lanes to major roads. Extremely dangerous in jy opinion. And as for lorries suddenly trying to squeeze you between their very large rear wheels and the central barrier…………………………!!

    Enjoy Rome.

    Roy

  2. Jaynie says:

    Try public transport – it’s easier anyway in Roma. Train or pullman, put your feet up and relax – wan’t there a UK ad about that some years ago? Then more buses around the big città – much better than always searching for parking. Enjoy the visit. And do try the Segway, two tours – one Vaticano and the other Colosseo, absolutely worth doing.

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