Driving In Italy – One Common Mistake Could Cost You A Bundle!

January 11, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
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LTZBeware The Speed Monitoring Traffic Machine! It seems the exuberant Italians have a new love, the inexpensive speed monitoring traffic machine!  After the introduction of this nifty traffic snapping photography machine a few years ago, Italian authorities have become true devotees of this technology –  snapping photos of unsuspecting motorists going a mile or two over the speed limit along busy highways and city access roads.  I guess the days of blithely zipping along curvaceous byways in open topped sports cars, silk scarf snapping in the breeze, are all but over.

Now there’s a  growing trend that all motoring travelers to Italy need to be aware of – the creation of Limited Traffic Zones (Zonna a Traffico Limitato).  What started as an experiment in busy cities like Florence and Rome, has expanded to smaller towns and villages across the country as well – Sienna, Pisa, Chianti  for instance.  These traffic management zones prohibit entry into city centers during certain hours of the day, often making it near impossible to get from one area to another without violating a restricted boundary.  Pity the poor traveler who books a hotel within a traffic restricted zone, you’ll be hard pressed to reach your destination by car without receiving a ticket.

And who will issue the ticket?  Don’t look for a police officer… your violation will be photographed by a speed monitoring machine that documents the time and date of the violation along with a picture of your license plate – you won’t even know you’ve crossed the invisible no trespass zone .   Italian authorities have up to one year to provide notice of violation to your car rental company and they WILL pursue you for payment.  ZTL offenses often bring fines of over 100 Euros for just one violation.  This practice has become so lucrative for municipalities in Italy that according to  the Italian Automobile Club,  recent studies show that traffic fines are now the single largest source of independent income.  “In the country’s provincial capitals alone more than ten million traffic fines of one kind or another are handed out each year, about 26 thousand a day.”  Is this remeniscent of fuedal lords taxing the peasants to pass or what!!!

Motorists beware – You’ll be challenged to drive in Italy without incurring at least one substantial fine for convoluted traffic violations – and that’ s just how they like it!  Here are two excellent articles that can give you more information and advice about avoiding traffic violations in Italy:  SlowTrav.com and Bella-Toscana.com.  Understanding the signs alone requires some serious study.

At present there doesn’t seem to be any concise information or maps that cover all of Italy showing just where these illusive limited traffic zones are.  Before driving off from your auto rental location, I would press them to explain all of the current regulations, what their policy is on handling traffic tickets, and where you may encounter speed traps and limited traffic zones.  Happy Motoring!??

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Category: Featured, Italy Travel Tips, Rome Travel Tips