Driving in Europe has some challenges, but it is an adventure that you will never forget. And there are auto rental companies that do not charge extra money for drop-off fees, Hertz is not one of them. Do some online searches, and you will find better rental options.
The route from Florence north will have you driving across the mountains, which are incredibly beautiful. If you have time, the Ferrari Factory is in Maranello Ferrari, you are not allowed into the factory unless you are an owner, but the museum is two blocks away, and they have an awesome display of various Ferrari vehicles (and race cars).
The Austrian Toll Sticker (much like the Swiss plan) is available at post offices, sundries and gasoline stations as well as the border control stations. They offer it in various time intervals, so get one that will cover the duration of your trip.
My wife and I have taken numerous driving trips in Europe, and have spent up to a month exploring, investigating and enjoying every moment of those trips. You are not "nuts", you are going to have a great time!
You might want to consider buying one of the Tom-Tom navigation units, which would give you up to date and accurate navigation instructions. To cover the countries you will be driving through with paper maps, would not be as up to date. In fact, driving in any European city without a Tom-Tom can be a serious challenge, for example, in Munich, streets can be one way for a few blocks and then switch back and forth to two way before changing again to one way. Failure to have a good navigation device with you, can be stressful !
Our rental vehicle drop-off was also at the Munich International Airport, where the rental company personnel gave the car the most stringent inspection I have ever witnessed! They seemed to be keen on finding something wrong, but I helped them inspect the car, because it was in the same condition I picked it up in. The point is to be careful with your rental, don't let it get damaged!
Have fun, and enjoy the driving trip.
Check into the trains available in those regions. We rented a car for a cross Italy trip and regretted it. We paid a lot more in tools, has, and parking fees (plus the rental itself) than we would have for train passes. Check out www.Eurail.com
We recently rented a car from Hertz in Florence and drove to Monaco for a week in the French Riviera (dropped off the car in Nice), so I know the pain of the unique expenses of renting in Italy. We were at least able to avoid the additional drop-off fees by renting a vehicle with French plates. You might check to see if there's a car available in Florence with German plates - really, you'd be helping Hertz get that vehicle back to the proper country. ;-) Also double check your drop-off options - it can sometimes be much more economical to drop-off the car at a city location (rather than the airport) and taxi/train your way to the airport.
Good luck and drive safe!
Avoid added costs by checking price for a drop off In a different country by location. Also, if you don't drive a stick shift reserve your car early. Finally, some people believe you must get an international driver's license. I've done it both ways depending on the country. Driving gives you great freedom to explore the area and stop when you want to. Enjoy.
Hi Laura- With your itinerary you probably won't run into anything crazy. One time we took a 7-country road trip through Europe and definitely learned a few things so I wanted to share the post I wrote with you so you can see what we came across and what I recommend for renting a car there, this also includes budget tips for car rentals in Europe and talks about the vignettes (the stickers) as well.
Renting a Car in Europe: 3 Things You Need to Know - http://thebudgetmindedtraveler.com/renting-a-car-in-europe/
I hope that helps! Have a great time!
My husband and I recently went to Milan, Italy, and rented a car there at http://italy.rentalcars24h.com/milan-airport-linate. Then, we decided to go to Barcelona, Spain, and spend some days there. We had no problems with our car rental. Our trip was unforgettable!