Reader Questions: Rental Car vs. Car Service

If you have spent much time around My Bella Vita, you know how I feel about renting a car in Calabria. You should also know that I sympathize with those of you who don’t want to drive and I realize that renting a car isn’t ideal for every traveler.

So, I was happy when Anne in New Jersey wrote me asking my opinion on rental cars vs. car service.

Here’s her question.


We plan to use a car service from Lamezia Terme rail station to Bottricello (near Catanzaro). I have been in contact with one of our Calabrese family members and I hope he will drive us to Sellia one day so we can see the town our family was from. I plan to use a car service for all other excursions.

Does that sound reasonable? I wanted to try to avoid driving if possible.

Thank you for your question, Anne. I certainly understand your concern about driving in southern Italy and am happy to offer my opinion on rental cars vs. car service.

If you are wondering whether it is possible to use a car service for rail / airport transfers and a few day trips, the short answer is “Yes. It is.”

But is it reasonable? Hmmm …. I’m not so sure.

In your case, Anne, you are traveling to a non-touristy village where you hope to interact with your Calabrese family. If they are like most Calabrians-and why wouldn’t they be?-they’ll be more than happy to drive you to Sellia and they’ll likely want to show you around their part of Calabria.

However, you don’t *really* know them and chances are, you might want to see other parts of the region-parts you aren’t comfortable asking them to drive to. Also, in a non-touristy place like Sellia or Bottricello, you might be surprised at the lack of shopping or dining options.

Yes, a car service can take you on day trips … rates I’ve seen range from €150-€200 per day for an English-speaking driver and you are limited to nine hours, which means if you leave in the morning, you’d be dropped off before dinner, preventing you from trying some of the best restaurants in the region or slowing down on day trips and excursions that are more time-consuming.

To sum it up … if you have an unlimited budget, then a combination car service and cabs might work for you. Otherwise, I stand firm on my belief that a rental car is the only way to go.

Thanks again, Anne.

Do you have a southern Italy-related travel question you want answered? If so, let me know and your question could be featured here at My Bella Vita. If you’d like help planning your trip, then consider a custom itinerary or travel consult to ensure you have the trip of your lifetime!

3 Responses
  1. As Cherrye knows, I am crazy about driving, especially in Italy. Yet, it’s not for the faint of heart. If you are used to driving in big US cities then it will not be a problem but if you’re more accustomed to taking it slow through America’s heartland, then a car service may be right for you but as Cherrye notes, have an unltd bjt. 🙂

  2. I think rental cars just give you so much more freedom to explore the region. While driving in big cities like Rome really isn’t for people who aren’t comfortable driving, I think driving in the countryside is pretty easy. I think many Americans are a little afraid of not getting an automatic car, but you can actually specify that stuff when you book… We usually don’t rent cars if we stay just in big cities. For everything else, I love having my own rental for the freedom it gives you.

  3. I would agree that when you visit family they usually are willing and in fact want to show you around. Paying for that service in another situation might be ideal but if you have family with transporstion why bother.

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