February 16, 2015, 03:33 PM
Driving in Florence - Italian scam
I traveled to Italy last summer with my family. We found a hotel in downtown Florence that proudly advertised that they had valet parking for only 20-some Euros per day, but they conveniently forgot to mention that if you bring your car to the hotel to get it valet parked, you'll get a fine... It's really a shame that I have to find out about this ZTL nonsense by searching the internet AFTER I receive a large fine in the mail several months after returning home from a trip to Italy... I've traveled and driven in MANY countries around the world, and have never come across anything similar to this. This really smells of a scam of the Italian authorities perpetrated on tourists. Seriously, do they WANT everyone to hate them? I personally am NEVER coming back to Italy again after this experience, and my impressions of Italy and Italians are EXTREMELY negative, in large part thanks to this horrible experience. The car rental company (Maggiore) also omitted this small detail. Not only is there a 100+ Euro fine to pay for this ZTL nonsense, the car rental company also charged my credit card (without asking or explaining) an extra ~40 Euros for "conveying my information to the Police". What a load of crock. Italy -- you've lost my tourist dollars and my respect forever (and from the looks of it from similar experiences I've found online, not only mine). I hope it's worth the ~150 Euros.
February 16, 2015, 06:54 PM
It is unfortunately true that local authorities seem to thrive on keeping foreign (but also other Italian) visitors in the dark about the procedures to follow to avoid any such fines, covering the big holes in local budgets with the money they make off of these fines.
It is my hope, that through our site and forum, we can inform and alert everyone ahead of time as they plan their vacations of these practices, as well as what the ZTL areas are in general and how they work, so that everyone is prepared to avoid them when possible, as well as KNOW that a fine is not a given.
If you were staying WITHIN the ZTL (limited traffic zones), all hotels and garages within the ZTL have direct software to communicate license plates of their clients to the local police so that you do NOT receive a fine, as it is necessary for them to be business!! Their business cannot be penalized for being in such a location, which would be the case if everyone suddenly stopped staying in them if they can't be reached.
So in this case, your own HOTEL is to blame as they should have communicated your license plate via the software.
For everyone who posts on our forum asking for help, we generally ask what plans are about the places they are seeing and recommend whether a car/car rental is suggested or not. We often suggest to avid having a car in Florence, as it definitely adds complications as fr as the ZTL goes and parking.
I know it doesn't help one bit now after the fact for you and others in the same situation, but for anyone else planning their trip right now and reading this, I am sure it will be important that they know the ZTL exists, how it works and whether it can be avoided. I can understand the feeling as we ourselves got parking tickets twice last summer as we traveled around Tuscany and felt they were just a way to fund the local coffers and it will be some time before we specifically return to those spots. We hope in time you'll also remember the rest of the vacation in Italy, those moments you did enjoy and which will be part of your memories forever.