You have rented a car and are travelling from a city to another. When it comes to parking your car, you might be confused on how to pay, and eventually IF you have to. Maybe you have considered to park in a private garage. This is a good idea, especially in art cities, where it is easier to meet a politician at work than an available parking spot. But in many cases, you want to be closer to an attraction or want to save money leaving the car where you do not have to pay. So, understanding how public parking areas work here, might be useful.
Where can you park?
The first thing you need to know is whether you can park in a certain district or not. Many cities try to avoid the excess of traffic in their historic centre by restricting the affluence with the so called ZTL, Zona a traffico limitato, restricted traffic area.
When you rent a car, you are generally allowed to enter these areas, but check in advance as there are cameras limiting these areas and it is easy to get fined.
Ok, once you have understood if you can enter a certain area, it is time to check if, how and how much you have to pay. First, look at the street and check the line limiting the parking space.
No line or white line
If you find no street sign that doesn’t allow to park there, and there is no line drown on the road, then you can park for free. I found one of these spots when I went to Matera last August. It was really closed to the Sassi and I saved a lot of money that day. I was very lucky, so try it especially when you are visiting a city in the less busy periods.
However, you always have to park a few meters away from the beginning of the walking path and never: near traffic lights, next to pedestrian passage or crossing, under a tunnel, near curves and bumps, above sidewalks and cycle paths.
The yellow line limits the parking place to people with disabilities. In order to park there, you need a special sticker that declares the disability and leave it in a visible part of the dashboard.
Yellow lines are also dedicated to shops which need a space for trucks when delivering goods. These spaces are generally limited to working hour and in the evening it is tolerated to park there. But again, check the road signs.
Spaces limited with a blue line are those where you have to pay an hourly ticket. Prices differ from city to city (Milan and Turin are much more expensive than Rome, for example) and from area to area. In order to understand the correct rate, check the closest sign to the parking place you are about to leave your car.
How to pay
There are several ways to pay. In some cities, you can pay via smart phone or but a parking ticket at a Newsagent’s or Tobacconist’s, a shop that exibit a black T on the front and generally sells stamps, cigarettes and everything regulated under the Monopoly laws.
Or, if you cannot find one in the nearby, look for an automatic machine. It looks like this
Insert the coins, press ok and you’ll get a ticket to place on your dashboard. In some cities, these machines require also the plate number, in Italian Targa. So when you read “inserire targa” you have to dial the plate number.
It is generally tolerated to arrive 15′ after the expiring hour, but try not to do it. It is really easy to get a fine. And make sure the ticket is well visible on the dashboard. I once got one because my ticket was not visible on the dashboard. And you do not want to waste money on a fine, do you?