Ok, Hold Your Breath, 'Cause this is Really Gonna HERTZ! Renting cars in Italy
We found the indoor garage across from what I thought was the Hertz office and drove inside. The people were friendly, polite but spoke little English. (By this time I was getting pretty brave with my Italian). This is where Lucas and I discovered a Turkish toilet--the crouch down type with a hole in the middle of a flat piece of porcelain. I digress... After this, it was a long five block walk, dragging luggage (we have the hand truck type with small wheels) behind, over cobblestones and on sidewalks that were nearly too narrow for one person. When we got to the station there was a large flight of steps to get up before entering the station... not very handicapped accessible, like the rest of Italy. Again, no rental office or drop off AT the station.
Now, the real nightmare: Naples Hertz. Naples Centrale Station is so large it was difficult to get our bearings (and the data plan wasn't activated yet on our phones, so I couldn't use the Maps app). We had to cross over an extremely busy viale where people do not pay any attention to signs, speed limits, other cars, pedestrians or stop lights. I was really worried about Lucas getting across dragging his large backpack rig along. Then it was a two block walk along one of the most sleazy streets I've seen yet. Filthy, druggies, gypsies, stench and drunks amid the rush of normal workaday people pushing past it all.
This was also one of the hottest days yet... we were all sweating when we finally got to the Hertz office, a tiny space with a garage door pull-down and--of course--no air conditioning. This office did have tw0 young men working there. But it seemed they were working tandem on each person (there were a few people ahead of us). They couldn't seem to handle taking care of two customers at one time. We did the paperwork and they gave me the keys telling me the car was in a "parking lot" 30 meters down the street across the busy viale--again. This time, there were no lights, no crosswalks and a major "rotary" intersection to get across. Just getting across the street was a real effort... and dangerous for Hertz to have their customers do.
Ok... 30 meters? Try 359 meters (I measured it on Earth). This walk was also hairy... past a sleezy train station hotel with hookers, panhandlers, gypsies and filth, the stink of urine. This taught me that everything I read is true... Naples is a sewer. Literally.
We couldn't find the "parking lot" until Lucas spotted a small Hertz logo on a building around the corner from the street they said it was on. It was a run down indoor hourly parking garage. So, that's where they hide their rental cars! The next surprise came when they seemed puzzled that I expected an automatic "Fiat 500L or similar compact" as per my contract (I reserved months ago). The best they could do was give me an automatic Volvo "soove"(SUV) he said. This thing was big--and dirty. He asked if I would like it washed. Of course, I said. He said it would take over half an hour... forget it, I said. We were trying to get to the next check-in in Amalfi to meet the caretaker. So, we got stuck with this wide vehicle, not the Fiat 500L that I had originally booked. And this wasn't even in the same "compact" class of car. It was a move up the tier... which I didn't want... especially considering the narrow, twisty roads that I knew were in my near future.
Returning this car wasn't all that bad, aside from the insane drivers in Bari. This office had three people working there, and still, NO air conditioning. At least, the Hertz person there offered to drive us to the station since he had to drive the Volvo across town to their garage location. (I'm glad I didn't have to pick up a car here!) I was happy for that, because otherwise it would have meant walking 4 blocks in a seedy, train station neighborhood, then carrying luggage down and then up stairs to get under the train tracks at the station. You see, in their wisdom, the Bari Hertz people have their rental office on the back side-- the proverbial wrong side of the tracks--from Bari Centrale Station. There's an underground tunnel going from the Hertz neighborhood side to the main part of the station, where you must enter to get to any train platforms. Again... no kiosk right at the station? Nope, that would make troppo senso (too much sense)!
Renting a car from Hertz in Italia is a truly painful experience. Beware... and look elsewhere.
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