Monday, May 17, 2010

Delayed Un-gratification

So on Friday I was checking through a particularly large pile of mailbox leavings.
Throwing out the small book's worth of ads and credit card offers, I noticed the rare gem of a real piece of correspondence. Well, not actually, it was from Hertz. For those of you in a different country, oh wait, I guess you have Hertz there too.

Opening the letter, my eyes fell on some charges and official looking documents from the municipal police of Como and Venice. The pages had their logo anyhow. I started daydreaming about how incredibly scenic both of those places are, but then quickly snapped out of it. It had been around seven months since I was over in Italy. My first thought was that this was some sort of scam and I quickly doublechecked the postmark for 'Nigeria' or some such place.

Unfortunately though, these infractions were real and the kind of thing those of us from the US are not familiar with. More specifically, I had driven into some limited traffic zones (ZTL) while touring around with my hired car. The ZTL areas are accessible to local drivers only, and only during certain times and moon phases.

The signs themselves are quite small and sometimes difficult to spot. Luckily, they used the red circle on a white background so it's a bit like 'Where's Waldo' (Wally for the UK types). Of course this finding game will cost you around 100 euro per infraction automatically enforced with computerized cameras. 'Where's Waldo' never kicked me in the nuts like this...

*Actual size of sign...

These limited traffic zones seem nefarious to visitors because as you are driving along trying not to be hit or get completely lost, the tendency is to follow other vehicles. You know, so you don't end up driving demolition derby on the floor of the Colosseum, or maybe floating behind a gondola in the Venice lagoon.

The actual purpose of the Zona Traffico Limitato is noble, it helps keep the old monuments in the town centers less exposed to pollution and not as many cars actually on the road so it looks nicer. But, it can't be ignored that this is a major money maker for the cities of Italy. I read a statistic that just the city of Firenze (Florence) rakes in 53 million euro per year in ZTL tickets.

Trying to remember the specific times of my infractions, I thought of driving in Como and remembered cutting across town to avoid driving out in the wrong direction (I had to get to my rented villa before dark and it was late).
I still can't remember what I did wrong in Venice. I have to presume it was on the land side (Mestre) because there aren't many roads on Venice itself and my rental car wasn't amphibious.

Since I remember being guilty on the first ticket at least, and it's impossible to fight the bureaucracy, I'll pay of course. I plan on paying my two tickets when the euro goes less than the dollar in a few weeks. Hah.

The weekend was great, the culmination of which was a wine tasting party which ended with time trial racing on a four wheeler ATV in an expensive neighborhood at 1:30 AM, but that is a post for another time.


  1. What?! Not cool. I wanted to rent a car to see how well my agressive driver of a Husband would fair against the locals, but now I'm scared.

  2. That sucks ass.

    I thought it was cool that you'd rented your own car and drove yourself around. I thought I might do the same the next time I go out of the country. But now...probably not.

  3. I'm so glad you had a good weekend.

  4. Wow! They are a little slow about sending it to you, 7 months! This the first time I have heard of someone getting a ticket from another country! Wow, how the times have changed. Good plan on saving money.

  5. I can't believe that you've bombing around Nigeria in a lime-green Ferrari. What kind of mosaicist are you?

  6. To local drivers only??? But.. but... that's not fair!

    Your weekend sounds fun.

  7. Uh, yeah... your weekend sounded about 1,000 times more interesting than mine.

  8. Hmm, there's roads in my town you shouldn't drive down either, but there's no helpful signs to know which ones. You learn pretty quickly, though.

  9. So that green car is the one you drove around Italy right?
    ; )

    Good plan with the exchange rate, you are so smart!!!

  10. P.S. tagged you for a little dream home game. Play along if you'd like!

  11. Nikki,
    Don't be scared, just be extra cautious around these goofy zones.

    Yes, but in the grand scheme of things it's a small amount.
    Don't worry, now you know? I don't think Spain has crap like this.

    It was a blast, the ATV racing bears a post, I think.

    Yeah, paperwork takes a while in Italy.

    I'm one of the best. Although, if I were really on my game, I'd ditch the Lamborghini and go with one of these.

    Dutch Donut Girl,
    Yeah, do they have these kinds of areas in Holland? I might think twice about driving there.

    Next weekend is the big poker tourney. You're invited.

    Are any of your vehicles amphibious?

    Yes (by yes, I mean no). I did see one of these cars with the exact paint job in Rome at the dealership though.
    I can dare to dream (and make a few good trades).

    I'll work on it, but I can tell you that my backyard will not be too much different than what I'm going for now.

  12. "*Actual size of sign..." made me chuckle :P

    I wish there were amphibious cars, not just owned by James Bond either. I'm sure that could be a practical answer to modern road-rage.