Where and What to Hire
The sprawling city of Rome has an excellent choice of car rental companies including big international names. At Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport Budget, Europecar, Sixt, Maggiore, Hertz and Avis can be found. In the city, Hertz and Europecar have locations close to Vila Borghese in the north of Rome while Sixt has a branch on the E80 main road coming into Rome from the east. Europecar has a branch in Municipio VII near Via Tuscolana while Avis are located close to the Termini Rail Station. A range of cars can be hired, from two-door city cars to larger family vehicles and even luxury cars scooters and sports cars.
Driving in Rome is not for the feint hearted. In fact the best tip for driving in Rome is, don’t! Not only is driving on the other side of the road but drivers often show a blatant disregard for any road rules whatsoever. At best, driving in Rome is chaotic, stressful and frustrating. Be aware of the Zona Traffico Limitato which prevents all cars from entering the historic centre unless you are in possession of a residents pass. Hotels in this area will issue drivers with a pass. The two main zones are the Centro Storico and Trastevere which take in most of the city’s most iconic historical sites. Other things to watch out for when driving in Rome are the many hundreds of scooters that weave in and out of traffic, foreign tourists, cyclists and the summer sun which can heat up car steering wheels to untouchable temperatures!
There is no street parking in Rome’s historical centre so don’t bother looking for it. If you don’t have to come into the city by car, leave it at the hotel and use public transport. For those with a car, the only option is metered street parking which is approximately €1 per hour or a public garage like the one under Villa Borghese Park. These are open 24 hours a day and cost from €2.20 per hour up to €18 per day. There are also huge commuter lots at suburban train station which are cheaper alternatives at €2 for 12 hours, €3 for 16 hours or €5 for a whole day.
Where to Go and What to See
While having a car in Rome is not necessary, hiring a car to explore the surrounding area is well worth it. Just 45 minutes east of Rome is the beautiful town of Tivoli which boasts stunning renaissance style villas with their enchanted gardens filled with cascading waterfalls and fountains and pools. Tivoli even has some incredible thermal baths. An hour east of Rome, even more thermal baths can be enjoyed in the beautiful spa town of Fiuggi with great shopping and restaurants to boot.
Rome is not known for its beaches, but there is however a secret little place called Ostia, just a 50 minute drive southwest of the city that hides a beautiful sandy beach. Backed by small cliffs and dramatic caves this lovely location is also home to some rather splendid seafood.
Just under 2 hours northwest of Rome, along the coast, is the area known as Allumiere. Here, hikers and walkers can enjoy atmospheric rambles through what used to be old Potassium mines with great trails and really off-the-beaten-track scenery to gaze at.
Wine lovers should make the short trip (under an hour) to Frascati where Romans love to come for long weekends to stroll along its panoramic terraces, sip its famous wine in the warm square on summer’s days and dine in family run traditional restaurants.
If travelling with children, there are many wonderful places in Rome for them to enjoy including the Museuo dei Bambini di Roma with its interactive ground floor built to child scale; Technotown for older kids which has a ‘time machine’ that takes them back to Ancient Rome and the Said Vintage Chocolate Factory founded in1923 by Aldo De Mauro which has, of course, a delicious gift shop selling plenty of chocolate treats. It is a safe bet to assume that most kids will be impressed by the sheer size and stature of the remarkable Colosseum, especially once they know it was used for fighting by the famous Gladiatori!