There are also some direct Intercity trains from Venice Mestre that will stop in Prato. These can save you time, if they work with your schedule. Schedules at trenitalia.com.
I can't advise about the car rental.
If not using the direct trains from Mestre, it is always cheaper and, depending on your departure time, sometimes faster to change trains at Bologna Centrale rather than in Florence. The Trenitalia website will advise where to change at any given departure time for the fastest times.
The cheapest route if buying at short notice, and not much slower (though for most departure times you must look up the two halves of the journey separately on the website) is to use a Regionale Veloce train from Venice to Bologna instead of the more expensive Frecciargenti, and a Regionale from there.
Prato is small and close to Florence. I think it is very unlikely that there will be rental cars available.
I suggest you would do best to take a train to Florence, then a bus or taxi to Florence airport. Pick up a rental car there, and drive to Prato.
Car rental Prato www.auto-europe.co.uk
thank you for the information. Who are the companies that hire cars at the airport, and is it far from the airport to where you pick up a vehicle and is the drop off at the airport or the pick up point, do they run a shuttle both ways?
Is there a railway station at the airport?
Thanks again for any information that you can give me.
As stated in post 4, you can rent in Prato, e.g. from Hertz.
The airport has many car rental companies, but many people would prefer to use a major such as Hertz or Avis or a reputable broker such as Autoeurope.
You could also rent in Venice, with a driving time of around 3.5 hours (not vastly different to the train-airport bus-car combination) and costs of around €50 for fuel and tolls.
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