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Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

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Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

I get so much discouragement for drivIng in Italy. Seriously if you know where ztls are on a map, don't speed or drive in bus lanes, how hard it is to avoid a traffic ticket. Four of us are planning to drive from fco to a hotel in Venice. Leave the car at hotel and explore for two days. Then drive to Florence. Same way, leave car in the hotel parking and explore for three days before dropping it off at fco. Saves us a lot of money. Why is it discouraged so much???

San Diego...
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1. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

I've rented an auto the last five times that I've visited Italy. I do what some people think is crazy and pick up or drop off the rental car at the Termini station in Rome. My one of two rules is to never again drive in central Florence. I made that mistake once and will never do it again. Aside from the one ticket many years ago, I have been ticket free on my last four visits. When I now visit Florence, I park well outside of town and take public transportation into town.

My other rule is to never drive around Rome. When I pick up a car at the Termini station, I drive directly out of town and when returning, I drop off the car at once and take public transportation to my hotel. I don't pickup or drop off luggage or passengers at hotels. We all arrive and depart the rental location together.

Saint Marys, Ohio
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2. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

We only rent a car when we're in Tuscany and Umbria. We often rent the car in Florence and drive out to A1 and then get on SR 222 to head south.

We do not drive in Rome, Florence (other than to get out of town), Naples, or any other city. We do drive into some of the small towns in Tuscany and Umbria and we've never gotten a ticket.

We use the trains to get to the larger cities. For the short time we're in Italy, usually 3 weeks, it's not worth it to us to try to figure out the zones, lanes, etc, in the cities. Once you're in the traffic pattern you're often stuck.

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3. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

I've driven a lot in Italy. No tickets. But as the above advice says, I stay away from city centers because my rule of thumb is that the ztls per square inch are directly proportional to how intersting the area is. I've picked up and dropped off cars at Terimini - to/from the beltway but never into the center: no problem but beware that if you miss a turn and try to go round certan blocks to correct you wiil find ztls.

Edited: 18 January 2012, 04:37
Centennial, Colorado
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4. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

I too have done lots of driving in northern italy but when we went to Florence we parked at the airport and took a cab into the city center. Simple as that! We chose the airport because there is always good signage guiding you to an airport, lots of parking and good transit connections!

Oh and no tickets despite driving a car with German plates!

Edited: 18 January 2012, 04:54
Takapuna, New...
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5. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

We've leased a car 8 times now and driven around 10,000km each trip, probably 5 of these included Italy and I have only 1 ticket for 25 euro in Austria at a Sunday afternoon speed trap entering a village that wasn't even there apart from the hidden sign. No problems in Italy from Dolomites in the far north down to Lecce in the south. We have driven into Milan, Torino, Sirmione, Bologna, Ferrara, Pisa, Florence, Perugia, Assissi, Alberobello, Matera, Lecce, Positano and Rome without any problems. In some of the places we were staying in the ZTL but supplied our rego to the hotel to forward to the authorities. The biggest problem I think is the speed cameras that are placed just at the entrance to many of the villages especially in Tuscany. On the last trip in 2011, we noticed more mobile speed cameras than on previous occasions. You do need to be very aware and not be intimidated by impatient drivers.

Takapuna, New...
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6. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

This link may help you to avoid speed cameras. Pay special attention to the "Tutor" system on the Autostrada.


Rome, Italy
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7. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

I think the "discouragement" may come from folks lack of knowledge about the differences driving in Italy as compared to their home country.

In my years of driving, I've only had one ticket I had to pay - a parking ticket for my motorino near the Spanish Steps Yeah, I knew I should not have parked there but my wife was "just running into a store" ... which turned into a 2-hour shopping excursion... She paid the 38€ fine at the post office.

If you have 3-5 people, often a car can certainly save you money versus multiple train tickets on multiple trains. But, as suggested, you must approach some driving locales - and parking - with some preparation and respect. If you "know where you're going," which is sometimes a challenge on Italian roads, you obey the driving laws, you carry the proper docummentation... then you can have a great time driving in Italy. My wife and I always argue about who gets to drive in Tuscany... And coming down the winding SS64 from Bologna (rather than the A1) is a great ride!

The challenge is taking the time to understand the ZTL's, learn the signage and traffic laws, follow the speed limits on the autostrade - avoiding the speed cameras - and knowing where NOT to drive. Most first-timer travels DON'T do these things and then they have "bad" experiences. You're not in Kansas anymore - so your driving experience will be different!

But different can be better!

Other car factors (and costs) to consider are - Does your hotel have parking and what will it cost you a night? We choose to ride the train in our last trip through XMAS markets in Germany, France, Switz, and Austria because we wanted to stay "downtown" and all the hotels wanted €35-45 a night to park a car. We didn't want the hassle of using parking garages on this trip so we ended up on the train. You do have to factor in parking costs. Much less expensive when you've got 4-5 people "kicking in" vs. just we 2.

The price of fuel. Talk about sticker shock... Makes the price in the USA pale in comparison. Gas prices in Europe the past five years for us have run from $7.50 - 9.50 a gallon. The good news is that cars in Europe get far better gas mileage. Uh, the bad news is that some cars over here don't have all that heavy "safety stuff" required in the US and can thus fold up like a tin can...

Get the documentation - For many folks, you'll need an IDP and driver's license for anyone who wants to get behind the wheel. I realize the rental car vendor may not ask for it but it's the law in Italy, depending on what country you're from. Yes, it's the law for US drivers. See http://tinyurl.com/Italy-IDP for more info.

Tolls -You have to factor these in if you plan to drive in Europe. Frankly, there not too bad in Italy compared to say, Denmark. To get over to Malmo (Sweden) less than 8 miles away costs €40! Driving across Denmark we hit the other island-connecting bridge... €30. Ouch! So do some research and factor these costs in.

Insurance - we always buy full insurance when we rent a car in Italy... the only country we do this in because my AMEX and other credit cards don't cover me here. ANY little scratch on your rental car will eat up ANY deductible you have. So verify and re-verify if you have coverage with YOUR credits cards (There are some that do)... otherwise plan on buying as much insurance as you can afford. You're heard the stories of other driver's actions in Italy... they are not being understated!

The biggest surprise... the ZTL's. These are certainly the "great unknown" for many drivers. In fact, you often don't know you've violated the law until you get a "charge" on your credit card from your rental car vendor for €25-€30. That's often your first indication a ZTL violation tickeyt is forthcoming. As mentioned by ALL the parties above - JUST DON'T DRIVE in these areas. Here's some more info on those: http://tinyurl.com/Rome-ZTL

You may also hit "rolling roadblocks." This is where many folks find out they need an IDP. in Rome, we've learned the "primary" spots where these take place. I've been pulled over 5-6 times on my motorino and had to show documentation (including an IDP). If they wave you over DO NOT IGNORE these folks... Here's how they look: http://tinyurl.com/traffic-stops

So with proper preparation. driving is fun in Italy, albeit sometimes a little expensive for smaller parties. For my wife and I, the costs and of the train - especially if we're able to score MINI discounted tickets - often outweighs the car costs. And for general travel in Italy, we probably are on the trains 75% of the time. But there are places, like Tuscany, where you need a car. So do your research and you can have a wonderful experience driving- we do!

Edited: 18 January 2012, 08:22
Le Marche, Italy
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8. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

If you're getting the car just for transportation to Venice and Florence, then it's probably not a good idea.

Train fare for four people Rome to Venice: €304

Venice to Florence: €172

Florence to FCO: €236

This is full fare, a total of €712. If you buy three months in advance on the internet, you can easily get discounts of up to 60%, except on the Rome to FCO leg, which is always €14 per person. So you could get the train tickets for under €400.

What is your car rental costing? Remember that a small car won't hold four people and four suitcases. Add to the rental the €68 for tolls, the €120 for fuel (estimates from viamichelin.com) and I doubt that the car rental will save you any money. Some hotels have free parking, but that just means they've raised the price to account for it.

And even though you're only driving to your hotel and leaving the car parked while you're there, if the hotel is centrally located, there's a reasonable risk that you could accidentally stray into a ZTL. The hotel can get you a "pass" to drive your car there to unload passengers and luggage, but they tell you the exact route you have to follow, and they can't exempt you from fines if you make a wrong turn. The safest thing to do is to get a hotel outside the center of the city, but then you have to add the cost of local transportation, not to mention time wasted.

I live in Italy and if we go on holiday to rural parts of Italy, we drive. If we go to a city, we take the train. A few years ago, we went to Milan for four days. The drive from our house to Milan is a good deal shorter than the drive from Rome to Venice, but we never even considered driving there. And we don't have to rent a car.

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9. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

The problem is you *don't* know where the ZTLs or the bus lanes are. You may *think* you do, but you don't realize how easy it is to stray into them once you're there.

Driving between city centers is just a bad, bad idea: it's probably more expensive (if you include rental, tolls, gas and parking); it takes more time; it's less convenient if you're planning to visit city centers; it's very much riskier from the point of view of fines.

Italy is *not* the US; it is *not* a car culture. Italian cities were not built for cars (they couldn't be, because they're millennia older than cars), and they're not a car-friendly environment.

Imperia, Italy
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10. Re: Anyone driven in Italy without a ticket?

Hotel parking in Italian cities rarely comes free. It is either charged at a daily rate, sometimes rather expensive. Or room rates are raised. And the parking in central hotels is also not always guaranteed, and when there is space, parking in it is sometimes challenging.

Unless, of course, the hotel is somewhere miles from the city centre where you do not really wish to stay. As in Venice, where not one single hotel in historic Venice has any parking, so you will paying be a daily rate (€25?) to park elsewhere. Or staying somewhere modern and characterless on the mainland with parking, and wasting hours going backwards and forwards across the causeway.