Only drive an Italian rental car in Italy!

Trip Start Mar 17, 2012
Trip End Jun 26, 2012

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Where I stayed
Villa Bertagnolli Trento
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Italy  , Trentino-Alto Adige,
Thursday, June 14, 2012

This morning our suitcases have been condensed and re-arranged to allow for the achievability of toting them from the hire car drop off to the Munich railway station - a distance of not more than 150 metres.
 Whilst the limit of what you may take on a train is determined only by what you can physically carry, we are mindful of the fact that in 2 weeks we will be boarding a plane back to Oz and we will then be constrained by both numbers and weight of bags.
With this in mind, we have stuffed our portable cold tote bag full of excess and weighty paraphernalia (Gail's shoes mostly!) and will look for a Deutsche Post (DP) outlet on our drive to the station.

We are given, what sounded like clear instructions from our Munich Hotel host, the route to the only DP outlet between the hotel and station. There is plenty of time before our train departs so we set out happily and stress free for our day of travel and adventure.

"I am sure we have not passed the DP outlet. Keep looking!". "We are getting closer to the station and still no DP". "Should we turn around and try again?" "Italian post is hopeless - we really should try to find this DP outlet". "Look! There is the logo for DP on that building. It doesn't seem like where it is meant to be, but who's arguing?". We enter the building.
"What do you mean I cannot send an international parcel from here?" "I cannot understand what you are telling me!" At this moment, a postal courier driver enters the DP outlet. In a mixture of broken English and perfect German he explains that we need to drive back along the road from whence we came, turn left at the railway overpass and continue to the first station's car
park where we will find what we are looking for.
30 minutes later we are about to give up when I hear "Spotto!! DP logo!!" Eagle-eye Gail has noticed a small obscure logo on the wall of a building 20 metres ahead. There is no parking space so Gail gets out of the car with the tote bag whilst I circle around.

Another 30 minutes later and we are on our way again. "Did we get to post the bag?" I hear you, dear reader, asking.  Well we did:- after Gail waves me to stop my circling around, after re-packing and re-securing the tote bag, after finding an ATM to get some cash and after arguing with a mad German woman who tried to extort money out of me when I tapped her bumper in an attempt to park the car outside the DP outlet.

We finally arrive at the car hire depot. We unload, get our final paperwork and head off for the station. With our wheelie cases, shoulder bags, and hand luggage, we negotiate pedestrians, traffic, potholes, tram tracks and the beating sun to finally arrive at platform 33. Shortly thereafter and with German precision we are on our way toward the Italian border.

Bolzano is often dubbed 'Gateway to the Dolomites'. The city lies in a broad valley basin at an altitude of 265 metres (870 ft), with three beautiful Alpine high plateaux of rolling hills encircling it from north-east to north-west.
The reason for departing the train at this town was that it was the first town across the Italian border that had a major car rental depot. It was located at the small regional airport, so we hauled our luggage to the nearest taxi stand outside the railway station and found a taxi with a large boot for luggage.
We arrive at the airport. It is small, and apart from a couple of rolling tumbleweeds, there is not much activity. I enter the terminal and a sole gentleman in a distant office is sitting gazing out with a hopeful expression that I should walk in his direction. Above his office door is the familiar green Europcar logo. So far, so good. I enter and present the booking voucher for the 'Ford Focus or Similar' class of vehicle.
"We have a Fiat 500 or a Fiat Panda currently available" says the now animated gentleman. 
"Are you sure that is the class I have ordered?" I query.
"Absolutely" is the reply, "and I have no upgrades available at this time."

After accepting his word and the vehicle, we squeeze our luggage into whatever space is available in the Panda and are soon rolling down the Autostrade (in the far right lane) in the direction toward Trento. The days have been progressively getting warmer as our journey moves south. Now, as the afternoon sun beats down we search for the air conditioning switch on this small Italian vehicle. There is not the familiar snow flake sign that denotes air conditioning but we take the blue and red indicators on a dial as the Italian version of what we are looking for.

Arriving in Trento we locate our B & B for the night - La Locanda del Bel Sorriso, a part of Villa Bertagnolli - a 17th century villa located on the hill of Mattarello just a few kilometres from Trento. Whilst the scenery on the drive from Bolzano was pleasant enough, the lack of air conditioning in the car wasn't (the dial turned to blue did not produce cold air!). We decide to spend the rest of the afternoon/evening soaking in the ambience of this magnificent villa and having a meal in their onsite Ristoranti.

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