The plan was to set up a car rental for the next day (to drive to our 2-night stay in Orvieto and also to my Dad's cousins' in Abruzzo)... and then head out for a day trip up to Lake Como on the train for the rest of the day. The Centrale train station could set us up for both -- perrrrrfect.
We took a bus and then then the train from the Locate station into downtown to get to Centrale. This was my first time in the Centrale station. This apparently is the biggest train station in Italy! ...And the maps in the train station are terrible.
Starting at the tourist information counter, the lady refused to answer any questions about trains... clearly stated on the window's sign. She did direct us to a car rental's office (Maggiore) on the ground floor of the station. We went... waited in line... ran into a friend that I know!... and then were told that they did not have any automatic cars, only standard. The other offices around the city through this company also did not have any automatic cars. The lady recommended another car rental company to try... a few blocks walk from the station.
We walked... finally found the other car rental office... (for Sixt) to find that it has changed locations to a place nearby. We attempted to follow the map outline on the sign but never found it. ...Back to the train station we go!
Making numerous circles around the huge station... we never found another car rental place. There were supposed to be many.
WELL... come to realize (a few hours later... and after a yummy lunch), the maps in the station show the station AND the blocks of streets surrounding the station! Good to know. This is very much NOT clearly shown on the map. Goodness. Well - now I know the Centrale train station pretty well!
It's now early afternoon and we finally kind of understand the map... off we go again to attempt to find the new location of the other car rental place (Sixt).
On our way... and using the Internet on my mom's phone to help direct... we end up happening to pass a Hertz office. YES! Let's do it!
We go into Hertz... less than an hour before they close for the day... and finally are able to rent a car. When walking from the office to the garage to get the car, we THEN see the Sixt office we had been looking for. Ha - of course.
Finding the car... we now don't have time to go to Lake Como... but decide we can still take an afternoon trip to the cute town of Pavia (just 20 minutes from where I live in Opera).
Dad was driving us out of the city in some traffic when we hit a hole in the road and hear that we have a flat tire. REALLY?!
...The Griswolds have arrived!
Yup, really. Certo. Dad and Sean get out... not only is it a flat tire but also a broken rim. D'Oh!
They change the tire to the spare from the trunk but it can't go over 80 km/h on the spare. We call the customer service line... that was an experience in itself... and finally make our way out to the Linate airport to change for another automatic car. Thankfully - they had one for us. ...Come to learn... we should have just started at Linate the entire time! So much easier.
Sean with the original car wearing the spare tire:
Thankfully after this escapade the rest of the trip with the rental car was all smooth. : )
We did it!
Hahaha... "What did you guys do on your 2nd day in Italy?" -- "We rented a car."
Getting back to my place (no day trip here... not even Pavia after the flat tire...) my mom re-looked at the information that I had sent her from researching about renting cars in Italy... so many companies sound terrible to deal with, ending up with crazy extra charges and bad experiences. The one company I wrote to her that sounded alright and reliable... was Hertz! WIN!