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If You Can't Do the Time: My Vicenza Pedestrian Zone Ticket

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Jan 29th, 2012, 02:16 AM
  #1
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If You Can't Do the Time: My Vicenza Pedestrian Zone Ticket

Well, my ticket arrived yesterday for driving in a pedestrian zone in Vicenza way back in September. Guilty as charged. I knew it would come. I was just surprised that it came so soon.

There is a big, well-marked parking lot more or less behind the Teatro Olimpico. You make a very hard left to get into it. If you make a soft left, you find yourself blithely driving down an empty street (the first empty street you have been on in Vicenza). Your suspicion that you might have ventured into a pedestrian zone is confirmed by the terror on the faces of the pedestrians themselves.

So the ticket was just over 100 euros, and there are instructions for paying in English, though the ticket itself is in Italian. As a percentage of the cost of the trip, the charge is minor. As an incentive to not driving again in Italy, it's a pretty good kick in the pants.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 02:21 AM
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Two tickets for me for driving in the wrong place. Apparently both times I was in a lane designated for buses only. I swear there were no signs in English. Next trip I will research "translation of Italian traffic signs."
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Jan 29th, 2012, 02:33 AM
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Italy is one giant speed/park trap in cities 100 euro parking ticket for me in Florence not long ago.They follow you EVERYWHERE if you do not pay them so I had to suck it up.
The new city "guest star tax" this year of 1 euro per star per
person per nite is another disturbing revenue generator I
will pay another 50 euro of tax on my 5 night Venice stay in April.They are slowly killing the geese that lay the golden eggs the tourists.Just train these days cheaper.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 04:45 AM
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If anybody reading this makes a mistake like Ackislander did driving in Italy and quickly realizes it, park the car and go directly to the police station. Explain what you just did. It is possible they will suspend the charge. Perhaps not, because the officer at the desk may not have the authority once it is in the system, but it is worth trying.

qwovadis,

One wearies of hearing complaints that the Italian government enforces its laws and collects taxes, especially at a time when popular slander is that Italians are a feckless anarchists who won't raise revenues to pay their debts. There is nothing unusual about governments raising revenue from traffic penalties. Try driving and parking in the suburbs of Connecticut some time. Or the highways of Colorado. But yes, beware: If you are coming to Europe in the next few years, there is a new fiscal regime that is aimed at paying off bankers, not welcoming tourists. If you don't like it, join the chorus in complaining to Berlin.

CYESQ,

You can't expect to find road signs in English in Italy. Most Italian road signs are pictograms, and yes, you should familiarize yourself with them before getting behind the wheel of a car in Italy.

Ackislander,

A pedestrian-only area is always very clearly marked. I don't know why you would be deterred from driving again in Italy. Last time I went back to the US, I got the first moving violation of my life driving a rental car in Manhattan, in an intersection that had a "delayed green" I failed to notice. The fine for that was $250, and the NYPD made no offer to send me the ticket or let me pay from Italy. They just told me if I didn't pay it in X days, it would be illegal for me to drive in NYS. I spent my last morning in the states in line at City Hall paying that ticket in cash. Should I not drive the next time I'm in America?
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Jan 29th, 2012, 05:02 AM
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"Should I not drive the next time I'm in America?"

Possibly. I would never even consider driving in Manhattan at this time in life , though it is in general a lot easier than driving in Boston, where I continue to drive with dash and brio, because I know how it works.

Zeppole, there comes a time in life when one's pleasure in traveling is lessened rather than enhanced by driving. I have long since reached that point in England, and I have now reached it in Italy. France, as we say in the US, not so much. As in everything else, the French highway system is logical and completely rational.

I am not complaining about the ticket. My subject line in full would be "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". I couldn't follow your excellent suggestion of going to the police station because I couldn't find any place to park in the first place!
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Jan 29th, 2012, 05:59 AM
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Well, your age is one thing, the pedestrian zones of Italy are another. If you no longer enjoy driving on your trips, don't do so.

I don't find the Italian highways illogical or irrational. Do you have another idea about how the roadways should have been constructed given the Italian landscape and its patrimony?

I think Italians did notice that the French and the Germans essentially destroyed their historic centers and ripped up their countryside to install efficient modern roadways and allow for big cars. Mussolini tried to whip Italians into following suit, and since he was anything but rational, the project (mercifully) failed.

Obviously you don't need a car to enjoy Italy, but please don't call it irrational or illogical that the road system is not French by design. It is both logical and rational that Italians have chosen, literally, a different path, and Italian road engineering is some of the finest in Europe, and its pedestrianized centers are a gift to humanity -- which is why so many people flock here and fall (quite rationally) in love with the place.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 06:31 AM
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Ackislander - thankyou for not making a big fuss of your fine, and accepting your mistake. I do hope you will dare to drive again in Italy though - you will miss so much if you don't.

CYESQ - I can't say I have noticed road signs in Italian (or French or German or Dutch) in the US, so why would you expect them in English in a non-English speaking European country? Surely it makes sense to learn road signs of any country you are intending to drive in - for your safety and that of your fellow road users.


Qwovadis many many countries in Europe have some sort of tourist tax, either at national level or a local level. It is nothing new, and tbh €5 a night for a 5* seems reasonable to me.

Many towns and cities in the Netherlands have a tourist tax - ranging from 50€c to €4 per night, regardless of the quality of the hotel, B&B or campsite. In Amsterdam and Utrecht the tax is 5% of the bill so it can be a lot more than €5 a night.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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I don't see why locals should pay for facilities and the upkeep of monuments and such, all for the pleasure of visitors. Venice, in particular, is practically unliveable in tourist season. Think of it as a theme park, with an entrance fee.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 09:11 AM
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Zeppole, we agree but you don't know it.

It is illogical to allow cars driven by nonresidents into the historic centers of fragile antique towns and cities. Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, Greve in Chianti, among others, have well-marked peripheral parking lots. Venice does it the best of all. They are all rational responses to the problem. I had trouble locating such lots in Vicenza, Verona, Padova, and Ravenna. They may be there, I just couldn't find them. In Vicenza, I followed the signs for parking in the Centro Historico, then went wrong at the last minute. It happens, and I can live with it!

I live on an island in the US noted for its historic architecture and cobbled streets. We limit cars by making it very expensive for nonresidents to bring them. For you to bring a car to Nantucket between April 1 and October 31, it will cost $450 plus $35 per adult passenger round trip. It makes you ask whether you really need a car or not. A rational policy that requires a rational response, though not necessarily palatable to everyone.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Glad to hear your enlightened position.

Rather than stop driving in Italy, carry the Red Michelin guide for Italy. It would have given you a city map for each of the cities you mentioned, with a nice blue P on the map at the location of each public parking area.

If you don't have a map, a trick for finding a peripheral parking lot is to follow signs to the train station. You will almost inevitably find a parking lot there, or a sign to one close by.

In general, I try never to drive to an Italian city that I can get to by train. On the rare occasions I want to, I spend some time online ahead of time identifying the locations of ZTLS and of parking lots away from the centro storico but within walking distance. You can usually find this information on line by doing a google search for "Zona Traffico Limitato" + the name of where you are going.

For instance, here is what came up when I did a search for "Zona Traffico Limitato Vicenza"

http://www.comune.vicenza.it/cittadi...trasporto/ztl/
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Jan 29th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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In case anybody else is thinking of driving to Vicenza and parking, here is a map of the public parking lots and places where you can find a metered space on the street:

http://www.aim-mobilita.it/images/st...entrobus_7.pdf

If you do my trick of looking for the train station but you don't find a parking lot there, you will almost always find a taxi driver there who can tell you where to park. But if you don't have a map of the town, where he or she can "x" the spot on your map, send your travel partner inside the station to buy a town map for you at the newstand. You'll need one anyway.
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Jan 29th, 2012, 10:53 AM
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<>

You were expecting signs in English? Surprised there weren't any? Why on earth should Italians have signs in English? Do they have signs in Italian where you live?
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Jan 29th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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Ackislander,

Thanks for starting a discussion of this topic.

Traffic signs in Europe are just that -- signs. The DO NOT DRIVE HERE is simply a round sign with a red border. Sometimes there is a small explanation or exception in the local language posted underneath.

There are some dozens of languages in Europe, not to mention those squiggles from Japan and China. You cannot expect any municipality to translate DO NOT DRIVE HERE into dozens of languages. The bottom line is that the EU has adopted universal signage that any driver can easily understand. We are back to the stone age with symbols on the cave walls.

They do not have cops on every corner in Italy. They do have cameras on virtually every corner. Geneva is reported to have 2,000 hidden cameras in the city, probably part of the reason it is a safe city at any hour. I lived there for two months and only saw cops at the border and on the highway, never in the city. So when you violate the traffic laws in Italy you are most likely going to be photographed and later phined.
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Jan 30th, 2012, 01:06 AM
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Good advice all around. No problem with the signs. I know them. I just got to a place where I had to make an instant decision, hard left into a hairpin turn or softer left into what? I guessed wrong!

To draw a larger lesson, it is very easy to guess wrong when you are tired or in a strange location. That's why I always agree with those who advise posters not to pick up the car when they arrive at Heathrow with plans to drive to Hay on Wye or somewhere else a long way off. I have no trouble driving in Boston, but I warn off visitors not just because the local drivers have their own rules (never use a turn signal, never make eye contact, of course you can make a left turn from the right lane) but because none of the major arteries have street signs -- only the cross streets appear in most parts of the city. So unless you know you are on Boylston or Huntington or the difference between the Longfellow Bridge or the Harvard Bridge or the BU Bridge, you are toast. GPS is less than helpful because it may route you through decidecly sketchy neighborhoods.

Most of us are afraid to be without a car because we feel it limits our flexibility. Some places you have to have a car, in the US or in Italy. But we are increasingly following Zeppole's advice and taking the train, both abroad and here at home, when going to cities.

There were six couples in our group in September, each with its own car. All but one of them had at least one couple fight over driving.
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Jan 30th, 2012, 02:59 AM
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I think what is underestimated by travelers to Italy is the difficulty of PARKING a car, not driving one. I don't own a car in Italy for just that reason. I just rent one when I really need one.

It is very easy to make a mistake driving when you are looking for a parking spot, not looking at signs. Also, you feel under tremendous pressure if cars are behind you while you are driving slowly, searching, or you think you spot a space and start making illegal turns to get back to it.

If you are driving in Italy, it is always good to factor in the need for plenty of extra time and extra good cheer when it comes to finding parking, including the idea that you may prefer parking at some distance from the sights and walking to them, rather than trying to get as close as possible in the crowded, confusing historic center.
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Jan 30th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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Don't know why the ticket would make you give up drivingi n Italy. Just maybemake sure where you are going.

As for signs in English - how many signs are there in Italian where youlive.

And a $100 parking ticket is a bargain. Here they start at $150 and go up to $350 if they are egregious (hydrant, bus stop or handicapped space).
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Jan 30th, 2012, 11:21 AM
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I assure you that I am not the one who mentioned the idea of signs in English. It was another poster reacting to my original post.

Nor did I anywhere suggest that 100 euros (not dollars) is a large fine. It isn't, especially since I did something pretty dumb.

I respect your opinions, nytraveler, and I would be very sorry to see these mistakenly attributed to me.
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