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We are heading for Umbria next week. (Sept. 17) We're picking up our car in Rome and driving to Umbria; our apartment is in Trevi, just north of Spoleto and south of Assissi. (Otherwise we'd have had to wait 5 hours in Rome to catch the van for our area.) I am a first time Europe driver, but I have driven in Australia. We decided not to bring a GPS--wish we had read this discussion before; the untours folks weren't very high on them. I will have a good navigator with me, the Untours directions, and the Michelin map. Anyone have any advice for someone in my situation?
Also we are planning a driving trip to Lago di Bolsena. Has anyone visited there or have any advice about the trip? (duration of drive, ease of finding roads, heaviness of traffic, etc. etc.) Thanks

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Nancy,
I drove to Rome airport from Spoleto. so backwards from you and I had had a week's worth of driving experience in Italy. Just make sure you are familiar with road signs, beware of tunnels that sneak up on you (particularly on Ring Road), watch the lanes beside you for drivers switching. I found that driving Ring Road to have been a very fast experience (as in it didn't take very long to get off, could have been the speed). The autostrada is wonderful for driving, but once you leave it for road to Spoleto and to Trevi (if directions have you going through Spoleto) beware! A mountain road with lots of curves and tour busses. But I loved it, even after sitting still for hour waiting for wreck to clear up. Saw Italian police in action and the patience and inpatience of people in cars.
I know nothing of Lago di Bolsena. Just watch out for those round abouts and remember if you're not sure which way to turn, just keep going in circle untill one of you figures it out.
Have wonderful trip.
Ciao!
If you don't bring a GPS, make sure to bring a good navigator because it takes one person to get through the roundabouts and another person to look for the signs to turn. Getting lost is half the fun. I found Italian drivers to be much slower and much more polite than when I drove there eight years ago. Italians are very good at helping lost drivers. Go there at least knowing the words for left, right, and "sempre diretto."
I just purchased a TomTom One 130S at Amazon for $76.98. I chose it because the add-on maps of Europe are way cheaper than Garmin. The 130S is well rated and this was a great price because it is a manufacturer reconditioned unit e/w warranty.
We just returned from our private trip to southern Tuscany/Umbria, based in Pienza. We did an Italian untours 2 yrs ago. Driving and navigating are each full time jobs! Even so, a GPS might have prevented us driving in exactly the wrong direction a couple of times. Take the advice about roundabouts, and be prepared for impatient people behind you to pass on the right in cars or on scooters if you are slow or hesitant anywhere, including exiting a roundabout. You should also go online for close in maps of the cities and towns because most of the time you will not be sure where you are entering the town and thus where to go to find parking. Beware of no-go zones for cars. Be aware of Italian/European parking and traffic signs and the difference between blue and white striped parking places; a place that's good to park Sunday-Thursday might get you towed on market day Friday. You will not believe how close they tailgate you to pass (often on a curve) or how closely they pull back in front of you. fortunately they seem to have excellent reflexes! Do not look for street names or even highway numbers on directional signs in roundabouts; the signposting will be for towns along the route. You won't see road numbers until you are actually on that road.
Buon viaggio!

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