Last year, I made a photography trip to Italy whereby I rented a car, and I traveled in several cities in Tuscany. One of which was Florence. And it was not until well over a year later, I received notice from a Switzerland firm, outsourced by the Florence police, that I had violated some traffic issues and was notified of the fines.
To say the least, I was a bit taken back. The fines consisted of four tickets having to do with driving in restricted areas of the city. These restricted areas are called ZTL or “Zona Traffico Limitato” I found out after the fact that several cities in Italy and Europe have implemented controlled and limited driving access areas. My total fines was 600 Euros or about equal to $800.00 USD. As I do a considerable amount of European travel, I did not want this fine to hang over my head.
The outsourced company, Nivi Credit, Ltd, reported that one can appeal the violations, but it had to be written in Italian. I wrote the appeal in English and sent it to my Italian friend, Dino who resides in Vigevano Italy. In turn, Dino sent back his translation, written in standard Italian legalize. Dino had studied law and was aware of the statute of limitations of one year.
Here’s the kicker: if the appeal is rejected, you would be subject to double the fine. In my case this would be nearly $1,600.00 USD. My appeal rested on the fact that I did not receive authorized notification of the violation until well after one year, the statute of limitation.
People who rent cars in Europe should be made aware of the ZTL In Florence alone, the total yearly violations of ZTL amount to more than $52 million. Tourism is the number one product in Italy, and now we know why.
I would suggest before renting a car and driving in Italy or any part of Europe, find out what the ZTLs are in specific cities you intend to visit. Also, I would determine the hotel locations because some are listed in a ZTL. The hotel that I selected, which was a few city blocks away from the Piazza del Duamo, was in the heart of a ZTL. The hotel personnel did not tell me about this.
When you pick up your rental car, I would recommend that you ask for a map or description of restricted areas. The rental company did not inform me of the Florence ZTLs.
In many ways, I was fortunate. I found out that the Florence police will acquire your credit card information from the rental company and then use it to collect before you receive notification in the mail. My credit card had expired. But for many other tourist who rent a car and violate the ZTL, their credit cards are charged against the “Violation of Highway Code” without your authority.
Beware of the ZTL. The posted signs are small and are not in English.