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Rental Cars and Italian Prohibited Traffic Zones

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Sep 8th, 2016, 02:10 PM
  #1
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Rental Cars and Italian Prohibited Traffic Zones

Just a warning to those contemplating driving rental cars in and around Italian cities.
I think this topic has appeared in these forums before, but it may be time for a refresher.
Most medium and large cities in Italy (and many small ones) have large areas ("ZTL"s- "Zona Traffico Limitato") where you as a tourist are not allowed to drive-even for a second-in your rental car. (Locals, taxis, and buses are of course allowed to drive anywhere) These zones are in the central part of town (where you want to get to) and are identified by a sign (a red circle) and sometimes a light (red means no-go). They can be hard to see, particularly if you're not familiar with the area (as you almost certainly will not be), and you could accidentally enter one and not know it until later (see below). If you enter one- even for a second-there will be a camera that takes a picture of your license plate, and you will be tracked down by the credit card you used to rent the vehicle.
If you rent a car with a GPS system, be advised that the GPS knows NOTHING of these limited zones, and will direct you as if they don't exist.
In a lot of small and medium sized towns in Italy (which are usually situated on a hill) it will be fairly obvious where the no-drive zone is (e.g. inside the old city walls). It's fairly easy to park the car outside the walls and walk/take an escalator/whatever into the center of town. But in larger places like Florence, Rome, etc. the boundaries are not intuitive, and your GPS may tell you to "take the next left"- say to return your car to the rental agency- only to find that you have inadvertently entered a ZTL. In Florence, in fact, the Hertz Agency on Borgo Ognisanti is actually WITHIN a ZTL, which presents a tourist contemplating renting there with an extreme dilemma. Frequently the streets are one-way ("senso unico") and turning around will not be an option (particularly since you will virtually always have cars/buses/locals behind you).
It used to be possible to ignore the large (several hundred euro) fine you will get- but with rental cars and credit cards that is no longer an option. Don't expect to get the rental agency to fix the problem.
Be aware that the car rental agencies will offer no help or advice here ("caveat emptor"). They act as if they are blithely unaware a problem exists (and for them, as locals, it doesn't).
This is not meant to discourage driving in Italy. It remains the best way to get to the small towns and countryside that remain a charming part of the experience. And ZTL's are probably a good idea overall in terms of the environmental impact on city centers. Just be very alert, don't assume the GPS is giving you the best route, and think twice about renting cars in the larger cities even if you don't plan on driving much in them.
mpclark704 is offline  
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Sep 8th, 2016, 02:17 PM
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Always a welcome reminder !

And keep the invoices of your hotels. If your hotel is within a ZTL, you have a right to go there, but you must prove it with your invoice. Usually the clerk will enter your licenseplate in a system and you would not get the 'fine'.

You may get asked to prove this some months after your stay. I was asked 1 year after...

With a little bit of attention you will spot the signs.
here pics with some more explanations.

http://grandvoyageitaly.weebly.com/t...ckets-in-italy
Whathello is offline  
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Sep 8th, 2016, 02:28 PM
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Should be mandatory reading for anyone renting a car in Italy and driving in cities- so so many 'complaints' here about getting tickets in mail months later for something they were totally clueless too - car rental agencies should give out a list like this to all foreigners but apparently do not.

kudos to mpclark for this valuable compendium of such laws.

Many thanks for taking the time.
PalenQ is offline  
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Sep 8th, 2016, 03:05 PM
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Thanks for posting. This is helpful also:

http://driventoit.blogspot.com.au/
RonZ is offline  
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Sep 8th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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If you enter a ZTL and are photographed, the authorities will find out it was a rental car. The car rental company will look up who had the car at that time and inform the traffic authority of your name and address, charging your credit card for this service. Then you get the bill/ticket in the mail, usually with a surcharge because the ticket is long overdue.

So be very careful.
Mimar is offline  
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Sep 8th, 2016, 04:35 PM
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The ZTL rules are different from city to city, and many cities have different types of ZTL. Florence for example has a ZTL where no private cars at all can enter, and others where private vehicles can be given permission to enter.

It's true that you're allowed in many Italian cities to enter a ZTL in order to reach your hotel. However, normally you have to notify your hotel in advance that you'll be doing so. They will ask for your license plate number, and they'll tell you what route to follow. The hotel, not you, has to notify the authorities, and they usually have a very limited time in which to do so, once you've arrived. (Once the ticket has arrived, no receipts from hotels will do you any good.) In Florence and Rome, and probably some other cities, many small B&Bs, and most apartments, have no way of providing this service, because they have to register with the authorities and pay fees to be in the system.

You'll normally be allowed to enter the ZTL to drop off passengers and luggage, and again at the end of your stay to pick up passengers and luggage, but you won't be allowed to come and go freely.

Car rental agencies also can notify the authorities of your need to pass through a ZTL to pick up or drop off a car.

Many ZTLs are active only on certain days, or at specific times of day.

If you're planning to use a car for driving into cities, you need to read up on the ZTL rules for that city, and ask your hotel to confirm that they can get you access to the ZTL, and what the conditions of access are.

There is a web site, in Italian, where you can search for a city and see its ZTL rules and maps of the various zones.

http://mobile.accessibilitacentristorici.it

It's too bad it's only in Italian, but there are English-language tourism web sites that describe the rules for the major tourist destinations.
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Sep 8th, 2016, 08:16 PM
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>>If you enter one- even for a second-there will be a camera that takes a picture of your license plate, and you will be tracked down by the credit card you used to rent the vehicle.<<

Cameras are not in every ZTL zone. The presence of a camera varies from city to city.

>>If you rent a car with a GPS system, be advised that the GPS knows NOTHING of these limited zones, and will direct you as if they don't exist.<<

Not exactly accurate. Newer GPS models with up-to-date maps may have a warning option. My brand new GPS warned us at a certain point before closing in on the city center of Siena. However, I would never rely on this feature. GPS often does not work.
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Sep 9th, 2016, 12:03 AM
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Cameras are not in every ZTL zone. The presence of a camera varies from city to city


I would count on the presence of a camera. They're almost universal in cities, less so in small towns.
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