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Car Rental in Siena

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Car Rental in Siena: One of the most picturesque Medieval Cities in Italy

Siena is Tuscany’s medieval center, and not just due to the spectacular Gothic architecture that makes this city a must-see for every traveler. The raucous and exciting annual event, the Palio, also represents a cultural tradition that today’s inhabitants of Siena have celebrated non-stop since the middle ages. Rent a car to make the most of your visit to Siena and its beautiful surroundings.

The Palio Horse Race takes place in central Siena from July 2 to August 16, so if it’s crazy local culture and massive street festivals that keep you traveling, summer is definitely the time to visit the city. If you prefer to keep cool and relaxed while you explore medieval architecture, however, plan to visit the city in the spring or autumn months. Winter is also a great time to take advantage of the plentiful museums and wineries in the area.

The locals speak Italian, though many Italians also speak German, French, or English. The time zone is Central European, UTC+1. The currency is the Euro, and credit cards are accepted at many shops and restaurants. It’s a good idea to keep some cash on hand, however. While there are a number of currency exchange services in Siena, using the frequent ATMs is a great idea.

Although Siena does have an airport, it doesn’t receive any commercial flights; if Siena is your primary destination, you’re most likely to arrive in Pisa or Florence. Both of their airports are excellent places from which to pick up your rental car. Florence is a little over an hour’s drive north of Siena, and Pisa is 2 hours to the northwest. There are also numerous rental car options throughout Siena directly, particularly in close proximity to the train station.

Visa Regulations

Italy is a member of the Schengen Agreement, as well as of the European Union. This means that citizens of the EU and other countries that are visa-exempt, such as the United States, can enter Italy for up to three months by simply showing their passport at any border control. Citizens of other countries will be required to apply for a visa before they arrive.

Driving in Siena

Central Siena is car-free, but given its comfortable size and significant character, Siena makes a great base for further explorations of the Chianti region. Florence and Pisa are both just a number of hours away, and the wineries of Chianti are well worth exploring. Automobile hire is by all means the most convenient way to cover all your Tuscan bases, with day trips to towns like Chiusure and San Gimignano. While roads may be narrow from time to time, they’re generally in good condition, and particularly in the Chianti countryside, you can travel traffic free.

Right-Hand Driving

  • As in the rest of continental Europe, traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road.

Speed Limits

  • On motorways or highways: 130 km/h
  • On dual-carriage highways: 110 km/h
  • On one-lane highways: 90 km/h
  • In cities, if not otherwise marked: 50 km/h
  • Traffic congestion in Siena takes place during peak tourist periods and the Palio.

Other Regulations

  1. Parking is widely available outside Siena’s city walls, though it costs more the closer you get to the walls. Some remote lots have a minibus service.
  2. An international driver’s permit is required to drive in Italy in addition to your domestic driver’s license, unless your driver’s license has been issued by a European Union member state. In this case, your domestic driver’s license is fully sufficient.
  3. All “Autostrade” roads are toll roads in Italy, but Tuscany doesn’t have many, and Siena is remote enough that you’re very unlikely to run into a toll road during day- or weekend-trips.
  4. The minimum driving age in Italy is 18, and some rental agencies will rent to people as young as 18, provided they’ve had a full year of driving experience. Most other companies reserve rental cars for drivers 21 and over, and if you are under 25, you should expect to pay a young driver’s surcharge.

Other Tips

  • If you’re staying at a hotel in central Siena, get a one-time-use permission slip to drive into the center of the city to drop off your luggage. Ask the concierge to give you a detailed map of the inner city as well, to ensure that you don’t get lost in areas that are now reserved for foot-traffic alone! Be ready for some very tight streets.
  • Italians drive fast and fluidly, so adapt by seizing the moment when it seems appropriate, and keep your eyes out for all other inhabitants of the roads. One-way rentals are often available, even for international travel, though some border crossings may be prohibited or require extra fees and paperwork. Discuss your travel plans with your rental company to avoid surcharges and border problems.

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