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Driving Renting Automatic Transmission cars in Italy/Europe

Why Automatic?
Italy and other European countries are often new and confusing driving experiences. Even if you know how to drive cars with manual transmissions there are good reasons to select cars with automatic transmissions. Between navigation, foreign driving rules, and learning a new vehicle, the less distractions the better. Booking an automatic transmission car rental for a trip to Europe helps you focus on the road and enjoy your surroundings. It also makes it easier to enjoy a coffee as you drive.
While I don't advocate driving in bigger cities,. most other areas in Europe are quite easy to navigate by car. France,. Italy, Switzerland and Austria are great for driving to areas that trains only give a peek at. Automatic transmissions allows for a more relaxed drive, especially in mountains and heading to hill towns.

Why Not?
Usually cost, but shopping around can often help.

Shopping Around
I have used many different agencies, but always after searching for online deals. A few things I've especially found helpful:
  1. Flyer Talk Car Rental Form has discounts posted for most rental companies. I have often save 45% ,or more.
  2. Join the rental companies frequent traveler programs. This often saves as well. one of our trips to France I reserved with Sixt. I joined their frequent traveler program and learned through postings at Flyertalk.com that they offered 25% off if you were at their highest "level" in this program. I contacted them, showed them my status with Hilton and Delta and they immediately moved me to the level that saved me considerable dollars. Be creative and search for deals.
  3. Reserve with more than one firm, especially if not picking up at a big city airport.
Two years ago we reserved with two different companies . We were flying into Florence and picking a car up at the airport. we've rented cars there many times before, but was unsure how the move away from the immediate airport area would affect my desire for an automatic. I also have experienced it where I arrived there in the past and they said none was available. It turned out my first choice initially said they had no automatics available, but eventually let me use their manager's personal car-a Jaguar. Very nice.
This year I'm renting in Zurich and driving to Germany, Austria, the Dolomites and eventually returning the car in Florence. I only rented from one company because I feel the airport in Zurich would most likely have my choice available.
Due to demand and availability, it should come as no surprise that automatic car rentals are less common when you begin traveling outside of the U.S . The good news, you can book one without cancellation penalties. I often book one right away and begin the shopping experience. I cancel as I find a better deal.

Last thought
No matter the transmission, always thoroughly inspect your car for nicks and bumps before leaving the lot. Take pictures and have the contract list all you have found. Even if completely insured, it's better than having the hassle of submitting a claim after your trip.
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