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Bus fine Italy

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I was on a bus the other day in Bologna. I always buy tickets, but it was a Saturday and the shop was closed, so I decided I would pay a bit extra and buy a ticket from the machine on the bus. But on this particular one there wasn't a machine, only a place to validate tickets, and it was just my luck that the inspectors got on the bus. I tried to explain, but my Italian is pretty poor and a very grumpy looking woman gave me an eighty euro fine, and took my details from the only document I had, which was my university card. I think the system has changed now, and they take your details and give you a form to take to the office to pay within 5 days - you don't pay directly. When the woman left to check other tickets, one of her colleagues very quietly said to me "you don't have to pay if you're not an Italian citizen". I am so confused! I'm going to my international office tomorrow to ask them about it, but I feel pretty grudging about paying a fine when I fully intended on buying a ticket in the first place, and am toying with the idea of ignoring it. But I imagine this could get me into more trouble in the long run. Does anyone have any experience with anything like this?

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