Planning this trip
Vehicle: Alfa Romeo station wagon.
Rental price: $1,240, including tax and collision-damage waiver.
Car rental agency: I used Kemwel, (800) 678-0678, www.kemwel.com, a rental-car consolidator offering discount rates all over Europe. Reservations can be made by phone or on the Internet; payment is required at the time of booking, and a voucher is sent by e-mail to be presented at the rental-car company specified. The rental-car company requires a credit-card security deposit, refunded when the vehicle is returned. Reservations must be changed or canceled through Kemwel; other rules and regulations apply.
Distance: 2,696 miles.
Gasoline: An average of $8.50 per gallon for a total of a little more than $600.
Time: 14 days.
Accommodations: Mostly with family and friends; a Holiday Inn Express north of Lucerne, Switzerland ($154, including breakfast); a bed and breakfast near Montpelier, France ($90, including breakfast); Hôtel Port Palace, Monte Carlo, Monaco ($386 during the Grand Prix); Hotel Villa Edera, Moneglia, Italy ($216, including breakfast).
Trip planning resources: I took an Italian Touring Club Europe Road Atlas and a big fold-out map of Europe. I used the digitalized route- planning device at www.viamichelin.com, printed the itinerary and took it along. To find lodgings along the way, I referred to "Special Places to Stay: Italy," by Alastair Sawday (www.sawdays.co.uk), whose excellent series covers many European countries, including France and England; "Michelin Coups de Coeur," which lists 1,000 chambres d'hôte and small hotels in France for less than about $100, though it's in French only; and "Hôtels et Auberge de Charme: France," Editions Payout et Rivages, French only. For restaurants, I used Michelin's "Bonnes Petites Tables," listing 500 of the best eateries in France that have entrees that average less than $40.