Last updated on February 24, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Tuscany

Is it recommended to rent a car in Tuscany? 3 REAL LIFE CASES

Is it recommended to rent a car in Tuscany? Yes, it is. Because you will experience so much more in this beautiful region.

Renting a car in Tuscany will allow you to drive through the winding roads of the Chianti region, stopping at a few wineries for wine and food tasting. You will be able to visit without issues the smaller villages and Medieval castles. You will be even able to reach a few unreal thermal baths, some of them free to enter.

In saying that hiring a car in Tuscany is not probably a great idea if visiting major destinations.

But let’s jump straight into all the pros and cons of this decision, with three real-life case scenarios where the vehicle may change your holiday for the best or the worst.

Beautiful drive through the hills of Tuscany
Beautiful drive through the hills of Tuscany

Is it recommended to rent a car in Tuscany? Yes, or maybe not

Tuscany is located in central Italy famous for its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Tuscany spans a large area of approximately 22,990 square kilometres, making it the fifth largest region in Italy.

This region is incredibly diverse geographically, with its lush vineyards, rolling hills, historic towns, and coastal areas, all painting a mesmerizing picture of rural Italy.

The best places to stay in Tuscany like Florence, Pisa, and Siena are beautiful and well-serviced by public transportation, however, the beautiful countryside of Tuscany is really the icing on the cake.

Picture country roads lined with towering cypress trees, medieval hilltop towns that offer panoramas to die for, and vineyards that vanish into the horizon.

These charms are harder to reach by bus or train, making a car a valuable asset.

Advantages of Renting a Car in Tuscany

  • Unbridled Exploration: A rented car unlocks Tuscany, enabling you to unearth its hidden gems at will. You can lose yourself in lesser-known locales, dawdle in vineyards, or seek out secret beaches. There are no timetables to obey, giving you the power to adapt your itinerary as you see fit.
  • Personal Comfort: A car offers a level of comfort that can enhance your travel experience, particularly if you’re journeying with family or hauling hefty luggage. You can dictate the temperature, pull over at your leisure, and savour the scenic drives without the fear of missing a stop.
  • Time-Saver: More often than not, driving trumps public transport when it comes to reaching your destination swiftly, especially when your sights are set on smaller towns and rural areas. There are so many hidden gems in Tuscany to explore.

Disadvantages of Renting a Car in Tuscany

  • Expense: Renting a car isn’t always the most economical choice. You’ll need to budget for more than just the rental price, with fuel costs, tolls, parking charges, and potential additional driver fees all adding to the total cost.
  • Driving in a foreign country: It can be a stressful experience. Whether it’s adjusting to driving on the right, grappling with a manual transmission, or adapting to Italy’s more assertive driving style, it’s not always plain sailing.
  • ZTL Zones: Beware of the Limited Traffic Zones (ZTLs) that are commonplace in Italian cities, including those in Tuscany. Venture into these restricted zones, and you could find yourself facing hefty fines.
  • Parking: Securing a parking spot in Tuscan towns and cities can be a tricky business. Free parking is a rarity, and the cost of paid parking can quickly escalate.

To sum up, the decision to rent a car in Tuscany is largely governed by your plans. If city exploration is the mainstay of your holiday, public transportation may suffice. It works so well if you plan a short itinerary of Tuscany in just 3 days.

But, if your heart yearns for the rustic charm of rural Tuscany, the freedom of a rented car is hard to beat. If you have a Tuscany itinerary in 4-5 days, then the vehicle is essential.

I usually rent my cars on the DiscoverCars website, a rental aggregator that compares the prices of local and global operators providing the best deal around, with the possibility to add full insurance for just 7 Euros/day, such a great peace of mind.

Beautiful drive at sunset time in Tuscany
Beautiful drive at sunset time in Tuscany

Real-life case studies

Case Study: The Wine Lover’s Tour

Tuscany is a paradise for wine lovers, with its world-renowned vineyards and wineries spread across regions like Chianti, Montalcino, and Montepulciano.

A typical wine tour itinerary might include visiting these areas, indulging in wine tastings, exploring wine cellars, and perhaps enjoying a vineyard picnic.

By Car:
With a rental car, you can plan your route, visit multiple vineyards in a day, and have the flexibility to linger as long as you wish.

However, it’s crucial to designate a driver who will abstain from wine tasting for safety reasons.

By Public Transport:
Public transportation might limit the number of vineyards you can visit due to schedules and routes.

You may also need to walk or arrange additional local transport to reach some vineyards. However, everyone in your party can freely participate in wine tastings.

By rented carBy public transportation
ExperienceHigh flexibility, self-pacedLimited to bus/train schedules, potential for more social interactions
TimeFast, dependent on personal paceSlower, dependent on public transport schedules
CostCar rental fee, petrol, parking feesBus/train fares, potential taxi fares
The Wine Lover’s Tour
Walking around Cortona
Walking around Cortona

Case Study: The Art and History Buff Trip

Tuscany is brimming with history and art, making it a haven for enthusiasts.

An itinerary might include visiting historical sites like the Pisa Tower, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, or the Siena Cathedral, along with exploring smaller historical towns like San Gimignano.

By Car:
With a rental car, you can visit various historical sites spread across the region, including those in smaller towns less accessible by public transport.

However, city driving and parking can be stressful and costly, particularly in areas with ZTL zones.

One of the worst is Siena but chilled out because using this guide to parking in Siena will make your life so much easier (free parking is available too!).

By Public Transport:
Public transportation is excellent between larger cities and can be a stress-free way to reach popular sites.

Moving between Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Florence and Arezzo is so easy. Honestly, there is no point to rent a car for that.

However, reaching smaller towns and multiple sites in one day could be challenging. San Gimignano, Cortona, Montepulciano, Montalcino, and the Medieval castles between Siena and Florence are all classical examples.

By rented carBy public transportation
ExperienceHigh flexibility, access to less reachable townsStress-free travel to major cities, potential scheduling challenges
TimeFast, dependent on personal paceSlower, dependent on public transport schedules
CostCar rental fee, petrol, parking feesBus/train fares
The Art And History Buff Trip
Tuscany - Visiting the thermal sulphurous water of Saturnia
Tuscany – Visiting the thermal sulphurous water of Saturnia

Case Study: The Nature and Adventure Itinerary

Tuscany’s diverse landscapes offer numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. A Tuscany itinerary might include hiking in the Apennine Mountains, enjoying beach time in Maremma, or cycling in the Chianti region.

By Car:
A rental car allows you to reach remote trailheads, beaches, and cycling paths, and carry your gear conveniently. However, driving on narrow and winding country roads might be challenging for some, although, I tell you, it is such great fun, with an amazing view too!

By Public Transport:
While public transport can get you to larger towns and cities, reaching more remote natural areas or carrying heavy gear might be impractical.

By rented carBy public transportation
ExperienceHigh flexibility, easy transportation of gearLimited to bus/train routes, challenging for gear transportation
TimeFast, dependent on personal paceSlower, dependent on public transport schedules
CostCar rental fee, petrolBus/train fares, potential taxi fares
The Nature And Adventure Itinerary
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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