Cars & Scooters, Rome
If you don’t need a car in Rome, I highly recommend you not get one. The city is too busy, too crowded, and there just aren’t enough parking spaces. Rome is an easy walking city and, if you need it, there is a good public transportation system with buses and an underground. The price of a rental car along with paying for parking does not make it an economical option, especially if you are flying into Rome. Just pay for a taxi or take the train from the airport and save yourself the hassle of worrying about a car.
I found this website that has parking and prices. One is only 5 Euros per day. I am planning a trip also and researching it.
The designer of the "Smart" car probably had the image of Rome in front of them when they designed this model. Walking the narrow streets and lanes of Rome, I was struck by the number of "Smart" cars everywhere.
They really seem like the ultimate solution for parking in otherwise impossible locations. Either in parallel parking, or perpendicular to all other cars in a tiny free space, they appear as smart and elegant as some of the ladies I saw driving them!
Scooter city - OK, no more jokes about how Italian drive - I have to say that they drive quite well - I have been "missed" by more motorcyclists than I could ever count!
Note that this is classified as "Other Adventure/Outdoor"
The motorcycle (motorino/scooter) rules are simple in Rome - NO RULES! People who rent a scooter to see Rome must have a death wish or sorts!
For people who live here – and who have been ”taught” this system of NO RULES – this can be a great advantage. For everyone else, it can be downright frightening! Motorini follow their own path, weaving through cars, driving on the opposite side of the center line, (against oncoming traffic), not stopping a red lights (That was for me?), driving on the sidewalks, driving through crosswalks along with the pedestrians, parking anywhere (including the sidewalks), with the primarily goal of getting from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible. There’s always that age-old question in the US… if you come to a red light at 2 AM and you can see for miles in all directions, do you stop and wait for the light to change or just roll through it… In Rome, they think this question is ridiculous as many motorini drivers are not stopping at 12 noon – much less 2 AM!
*Note that this tip is also on my Warnings/Dangers group.
“Sembra una vespa!” (“It resembles a wasp!”)
— Enrico Piaggio (1905-1965), his reaction to the buzzing sound of the engine of a Vespa prototype
Romans love their Vespas. And so does the rest of the world; this icon of post-World War II Italian industrial design is the most successful motor scooter ever made. Throughout the capital large parts of the cityscape are given over the Vespa, as this line of parked vehicles near the Spanish Steps illustrates.
Emerging from the Second World War with an industrial and transportation infrastructure that lay in ruins, Italy needed a vehicle that could navigate the country’s bombed-out roads. Another consequence of the War that contributed to the Vespa’s development was Italy’s agreement with the Allies to limit its military production. The vehicle’s manufacturer, Piaggio & Co. S.p.A, turned from making fighter planes to Vespas.
It is possible to rent a Vespa while in Rome; plenty of web sites can help you find the model and terms that will suit your comfort level. You can imagine that you are Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn from that fabulous 1953, Academy Award-winning motion picture, “Roman Holiday” (see photo #2 the edge of the Coliseum can be seen to the right. This story was filmed on location).
Signage is horrible in Rome. Outlying areas are OK, but I highly recommend you NOT rent a car in Rome. Use the trains. If you do rent a car, do NOT rent from Avis. I tried driving in Rome and ended up taking the car back less than 2 hours later, because the GPS told us we were approaching Orvieto, only to come upon the Colliseum again!! When I returned the car, Avis told me I would have to pay for the entire 5 days I had reserved the car. (You know darn well they rented it later that day.) A call to Avis when I returned home got me only a 2 day credit!! AVIS SUCKS!!!!
At first glance, traffic in Rome seems crazy, but it's amazing how it works out so well. Horn is probably the first part that wears out in Italian cars, they use it more than braking pedal :)
I'm sure there are traffic rules in Italy, but unwritten rules are the ones to obey. Police don't bother drivers or pedestrians unless they do something extraordinarily stupid.
Crossing streets in Rome is easy once you get hang of it (it takes just a couple of crossings). Drivers don't stop but they won't hit you unless you step on the street totally unexpected (or when there's red traffic light for you). Just use your intuition and common sense.
Traffic lights are green for pedestrians for short time in Rome, but once it gets yellow, you have about half a minute left to cross the street. If it's red, expect to wait a couple of minutes, traffic light cycles are long. Traffic lights are mostly accepted by drivers, but not pedestrians.
There are lots of cars in Rome, and, naturally, many scooters, too. Cars are mostly 10+ years in age and some 25 per cent have a dent or two, but it probably doesn't bother drivers at all. I really like this attitude!
And last but not least, you really don't want to drive in Rome, choose rails and buses!
All the cars in Rome are very small. It's weird at first (if you're from the US). It took us a day or to get used to all the traffic and the (absense) of traffic laws.
All motorcycles will scoot up to the red light and take off before all the cars and buses. Those poor bus drivers, they are excellent drivers. It must be like a horse swatting annoying flies buzzing around them.
Anyways, it's really interesting. You'll see more motorcylces than anything (and not the Kawasaki). They are fully loaded and very environmental. Al Gore would be proud...
Italy is full the small cars, the motorbikes ... and funny cars :)
It is amazed me, how tightly they parking their little cars.
Of course most of cars were scratched. Only big and expensive cars looks like new cars, without scratches.
One year later I was possibility to ask from one Italian, why it is so ... and she explain, that the big and expencive cars are scratched too, but they owners are usually on the better economical condition and their cars be repaired as soon it is possible.
For people who never wasn't before in Italy it is the exciting experience...
In summer, when weather is hot, it looks like some madness arriveing to Rome. Our arrival time was at evening, when the working time was ended and peoples hurry to home.
There were hundred cars who waiting in several checkout-queues in checkpoint, to pay the road tax.
I think when you hurry to home, it is very stressful wait so in disarrangement of cars ...
we were tourists in bus with contitioner and for us it was really exciting watch for show what was happen behind the windows of our bus.
There were much to see - some peoples was eating, another couple was kissing self-forgetfully ;) ... there were young peoples sitting with feet on the control panel, there were family who pushing own car, because the radiator of car started to leak ...
And so we spend the time, till we pass through checkpoint.
It is not legal for most people to drive around in the city center of Rome during weekdays and part of the weekend. This is what an official website says:
"Monday through Friday from 6.30 to 18.00 and Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 you are not allowed to drive to downtown Rome, unless you are a resident or you are granted a special permission.
All 22 streets accessing the so-called "Limited Traffic Zone" (Z.T.L. in Italian) have been equipped with electronic access detection devices, which are able to detect and record illegal access of vehicles. This electronic access detection system "reads" the plate numbers of vehicles illegally accessing the Zone and the vehicle owners will receive a fine at home.
All tourists wishing to drive to downtown hotels by their private car should first contact the hotel management. Upon arrival the hotel has to send a fax containing numberplate and days of stay to ATAC.
fax 0039 06 57 11 82 59 to avoid the fine.
For further information, please visit www.atac.roma.it or call the Information Center at the number 06 57 118 333 (Monday through Friday from 8.00 to 18.00, Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00)." from http://www.romaturismo.com/v2/romatiaccoglie/en/centrostorico.html
I have finally found the maps of the various Z.T.L. zones in Rome; however, the index and maps are only in Italian at the ATAC website. Please see the map index for the list of maps. Note that "diurna" means daytime, and "notturna" means nighttime.
Note that sectors A through F are generally the center of Rome east of the Tiber. Sector G is Trastevere.
Note that the ZTL hours for Trastevere (Sector G) is different than the others - cars without the proper authorization are banned from Sector G only from 06:30 to 10:00 on Monday through Saturday. At this point, there does not appear to be a ban after 10 a.m.
We rented a car for a 2 week vacation in Italy. I do not know what ring of hell Dante put the drivers in Rome, but they are down there! IT WAS A NIGHTMARE!!!!! Trying to find parking for our B&B was also difficult; but once we parked we did not move it until we left Rome.
It's a well known fact (and true!) that Rome's favourite means of transportation is the scooter. I picked up a brochure from the hotel which gives an indication of prices and how it works.
This rental company is located in station Roma Termini, between the main entrance and the bus station. Open 7 days a week.
Price indication (2007) for a 50 cc Scooter:
Per hour € 8
Per day (9.30-19hrs) € 35
Per 24 hrs € 37
Weekends € 25 (per day)
For a week € 25 (per day)
Note: you need a drivers license.
There are also 125 cc and 125 cc Comfort Scooters for rent.
And bicycles at € 10 per 24 hrs.
They take creditcard payments.
We drive off and somehow miraculously find the famous ‘Autostrada’ – the toll way south. We drive along for about 15 minutes and the damn fuel warning light comes on. Now we realize that the needle is almost on empty.
After about a half hour of driving, we finally settle down and finally relax for the rest of the drive.
Paying the toll along the way was easy, you slip in the ticket, slip in your credit card, out comes a receipt, the gate opens; and you’re on your way. There are three lanes of traffic on the Autostrada, a right lane for all trucks and cars going 60-70 mph. The middle lane is for 70-80 mph speed, and the left lane is for 80-90+ mph speedsters. I got lights blinked at me only 2x during the whole drive time. Everyone just seems to know where to be. We did a little driving in fast left lane doing 140 km keeping up with a good stream of traffic consisting mostly of BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes. We noticed that all the cars over there both the large models and smaller ones were always standard transmissions, including the finest and largest Mercedes, station wagons, and the public buses. This I found to be much unlike our country which has become almost exclusively automatic transmissions.
We are glad that we did the Italian drive down to Amalfi and in retrospect, enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t do it the next time. A train would work well. I say that, but on later trips in Northern Italy, we drove easily without any tense situations. I think that cliff lined Amalfi coast area is the one to watch out for.
if you rent a car in rome just DON'T rent your car by maggiore rent-a-car company. they cheated us. we got a car with a half-full tank. as we returned our car we filled the tank 3/4 full (means paid 20 EUR extra) and wrote a notice that we had received half-full tank in the beginning. never the less they charged our credit card with 50 EUR extra. So we paid 70 EUR more than we thought. we protested by mail, but they just said, they won't pay us anything back.
This company is crap. If you want to get know Italian inefficiency and bureaucracy - go to maggiore.