We are planning a day trip to Rome, heading there from Gaiole in Chianti. What would be the easiest and most cost effective way to get to Rome? We will have a rental car, but didn't want to drive into Rome with the car. Thanks for any help.
Rome really isn't the stuff of a day trip, particularly if you've never been. I also wouldn't recommend driving there, so the best solution would be to head east to Montevarchi, leave the car there and catch a train to Rome. Check www.trenitalia.com for the train schedules - from Montevarchi you might not be able to take a fast train as those depart from Florence... so if you really want to do it, it might make more sense to drive to Florence, park the car for the day and catch a fast train to Rome.
You can have a good time in Rome and not spend $50 a meal eating out. Only the tourist traps charge that much money. Get a good travel guide that shows you some good restaurants that won't break the bank.