Why would you want to rent a car in Messina? To save money because there are four of you? Not going to happen. Train, round-trip, to Taormina for four adults will be $41.50. A bus will be less than that. The car rental would be at least 3 times that amount.
Have you ever driven in Italy? Have you ever driven where two lane roads are probably 30% less in width than they are in the states? Do you realize that the roads are not well marked?
I can answer yes to all of these and can say that I have no desire to drive in Sicily. I am also somewhat fluent in written Italian and still have no desire to drive - I'll take the train.
There are a bunch of us on the same cruise that are going to do self-tours using the bus and/or trains in Messina. You do not want a car!!
Radiance of the Seas - Nov 2006
Legend of the Seas - Jun 2007
Costa Fortuna - Mar 2008
Legend of the Seas - Oct 2008
Celebrity Constellation - July 2009
MSC Orchestra - Jan 2009
Navigator of the Seas - March 2009
MSC Poesia - November 2009
Jewel of the Seas - June 2010
I have driven around Calabria and Sicilia without any problems. Of course, I recommend that you have a basic understanding of Italian or if you know Spanish than you should be fine. Do make sure you plan your route in advance and bring a map or GPS as roads are not marked as they are in the US.
If you are looking for recommendations on where to rent a car, I suggest that you call a local 4 or 5 star hotel in Messina or Taormina and ask for the name of an agency. I paid approximately 50 euros a day for a basic car with unlimited mileage in Tropea.
thanks Brandy that's a good suggestion I've read that most people say to try argusrentals.com and they seem to be a little less than National car rental. My husband speaks Sicilian and has driven there before. I on the other hand would never attempt it!
When are you going on your cruise? If you enjoy hiking and nature there is a fantastic park near Taormina that I visited the last time in Sicilia. I forget the name of the park but I will search for it and repost!
OK, I understand the appeal of doing things on your own. That being said, do not discount the information that Foye (ftroute) has put forth. Driving in Italy is somewhat precarious at best. The roads are far more narrow than their American counterparts. Believe it or not, Italian drivers are very competent, but, their driving style can be a little discombobulating to the average North American driver. Understand that a country that gave us the Ferrari and the Lamborghini does not always have the tourist driver in mind. (of course, if I could arrange a drive with an Enzo or a Murcielago, I would willingly take the chance.)