Car rental firms impose age limits


It was recently noted that the British Tourist Authority denied the existence of any law restricting auto rentals to people over a certain age, and that such restrictions were up to the individual company. Can you supply me with the names of companies in England and their age restrictions?

Some major car rental companies operating in England do have age restrictions, although they are more frequently applied to those under 25. Representatives of these companies cite higher accident rates among certain age groups as the reason for such restrictions.

Avis and Hertz do not have senior age limits, although both have restrictive policies for younger drivers. Avis will not rent cars to individuals younger than 23, and drivers between the ages of 23 and 25 must pay a $25 surcharge. Hertz will not rent cars to drivers under 25.

Budget Rent a Car, recently rescinded its policy of not renting to drivers over 75 in England, but several of the company's regional reservations offices indicated that news of this change has not filtered down to all of its employees. The company has retained its minimum age restriction of 25. Eurodollar's general policy is not to rent cars to drivers younger than 21 or older than 75.

I am planning a trip to Italy and would like to visit Aversa, near Naples, where my parents were born. Do you have information on this area?

Aversa, population 55,000, is not often on tourists' itineraries, yet its numerous churches, monasteries and renowned mozzarella di bufala make a detour worthwhile.

About eight miles from Naples, Aversa was founded around 1030 by the Normans and was their first foothold on the Italian peninsula. During the Middle Ages, the Longobard, Muslim and Byzantine cultures all left their marks on the city, which later passed into the hands of various ruling dynasties, including the Anjevin and the Aragon. Over the centuries, Aversa has been damaged by earthquakes, most recently by the earthquake of 1980.

Aversa was once known as the "territory of the 100 churches." Today there are only about 30 that may be visited. The Duomo there, also known as the Cathedral of San Paolo, was begun in the 11th century under the Normans, but, like many of the other churches in the area, it was almost totally rebuilt in the 18th century. Its immense steeple dates from 1499.

The large castle that was built by Aversa's first Norman ruler was also remodeled in the 18th century by Alfonso I of Aragon. The Annunciata, a large charity institution founded at the beginning of the 14th century and still operating today, is another of Aversa's architectural treasures.

Among the churches that should not be missed are Santa Maria a Piazza, the church of San Francesco with its 11th-century crypt and the former Benedictine convent of San Lorenzo, which has a lovely Romanesque door and two cloisters.

While in the area, you may want to visit Caserta, about 20 kilometers from Aversa. One of Italy's most imposing monuments, the Reggia, or Royal Palace, of Caserta, built between 1752 and 1774 on the orders of Charles III of Bourbon who wanted to rival Versailles, is situated here. The 1,200-room palace is nestled within a 250-acre park complete with groves, ponds, fountains and a 256-foot cascade.

Aversa's only hotel, the Hotel del Sole, is centrally situated at 27 Via Mazzini. The telephone and fax number is (081) 8901266, 8901366 or 8901334. A double with bath costs about $82.

We are planning a trip to the San Francisco area in mid-October and have heard that the Potomac, Roosevelt's former yacht, is available for tours and cruises. Please provide information.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Floating White House" is indeed open for dockside tours and cruises from its berth at Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif.

The presidential yacht, which is a National Historic Landmark, underwent a 12-year, $5 million renovation before opening to the public last summer. Your visit is timed just right, because on Oct. 31, the boat will close for the colder months (although it will be available for charters). It will reopen April 1.

From 1937 to 1944, Roosevelt used the 165-foot vessel, which was built in 1934 and docked on the Potomac River, for summer cruises and fishing trips. Among the heads of state he entertained on the yacht were Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Crown Princess Martha of Norway. In August 1941, the Potomac was used to transport Roosevelt to a clandestine meeting with Winston Churchill off Newfoundland, where the principles of the Atlantic Charter were forged.

The Potomac is now owned and operated by the nonprofit Association for the Preservation of the Presidential Yacht Potomac.

Tours conducted by volunteer guides are available on Wednesday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission for the 45-minute tour is $5, $4 for those over 60 and $2 for children 6 to 17. Children under 6 are admitted free.

Ninety-minute cruises around Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay are offered April through October on the second Thursday and fourth Saturday of each month at 10: 30 a.m. and 1: 30 p.m. The cruise costs $25. On the third Saturday of each month, three-hour cruises through San Francisco Bay depart at noon. The $50 fee includes a box lunch (10 percent discount for tickets purchased more than seven days in advance).

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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