Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
All About Parking in Italy
Parking in Italy is much easier than you would think. The more tourist-oriented towns and cities have large, pay parking lots just outside the historic centers. Street parking is organized and designated with signs and by the color of the lines for the parking spots. The photo to the right tells you there is a parking lot to the right and that trucks and cars with trailers cannot go straight on this road. This sign is in Bagno Vignoni in Tuscany and if you go straight, you get to an even better parking area (although the sign does not tell you that).
The color of the lines on the parking space indicates the type of parking; white is for free parking, blue is for paid parking. This is the usual case, but each commune in Italy can decide the parking regulations, so always look around for signs. Signs will tell you if you are required to pay or to use a parking disc to time your parking (more details below).
Blue Lines: Pay Parking
In most regions, blue lines mark paid street parking. There will be a payment machine or a place to by tickets close by. You get some type of receipt telling you how long you can stay (the time your parking expires is usually printed on the receipt). Put this receipt in the car window. See the Parking Machines section below for more information.
This photo shows blue line parking space on the street in Arezzo. We went to a parking machine a bought a ticket for parking.
Beware of Fake Parking Lot Attendants
Kerry S. Ouellet, April 2007
If the parking lines are blue, you need to pay to park. If someone is there to help you park, first check that there is no pay machine where you pay and get a ticket to place on your dashboard (the box will have a white P in a blue square above it). We were totally scammed in Florence (at the Piazza Piave, maybe a half mile east from the Ponte Vecchia). We drove into the lot (just happy that we had survived the inner-city traffic), and this "nice" man guided us into a space. He asked if we wanted to stay all day. We said yes. He asked for 20 Euro, which we thought was expensive, but we decided it was worth it not to have to keep looking for a space. He gave us a ticket that said 20 Euro, and we put it on the dashboard. But, when we arrived back at the car, we had a parking ticket (35 Euro!!!). So just look for the parking box, and say no to the attendant.
White Lines: Free Parking
In many towns, white lines mark free parking spots on the street but they may be limited by time. The closest parking sign will tell you if you must set your parking disc to show when you arrived. Set your parking disc to the time you parked and display it in the window. You must return within the time allowed as indicated on the sign. See the Parking Disc section below for more information.
This photo shows white line parking space on the street in Monterchi. This parking spot was free. Notice how small the spot is. We rented a compact car (not the smallest size, the next one up), a Volkswagen Golf. This is small enough to park easily yet big enough for the high speeds on the Autostrada.
Note: When parking in larger cities, like Florence, white lines can be for residents only. Check for signs when you park.
No Lines: Free Parking
Parking in a field outside of Gubbio. Some parking lots outside of towns are just fields designated for parking. No lines - the cars just park however they can.
Free Parking: Parking Disc
If the parking sign indicates that the parking is time-limited, you need to use a parking disc to indicate the time you parked. When you rent a car in Italy, they may already have a parking disc. If they do not, you can purchase one at a Tobacco store or gas station. Ask for a disco orario. They are not expensive.
To use the parking disc, set it to indicate the time you parked and place it inside your car in the windshield so it can be seen by the parking police.
Some examples of parking signs and restrictions.
Note: Crossed hammers on a sign indicates these restrictions do not apply on Sunday and holidays.
Pay Parking: Pay at Machine
Blue lines on a parking spot indicate paid parking. You might have to buy a timed ticket from a machine. The machine serves many parking spots, so it may not be close by. A chart on the machine tells you how much it costs per hour. Put enough coins in the machine for the time you want and a receipt is printed with the time you can park until. Put this inside the car windshield. Some machines take bills, but most take only coins. Keep a bunch of coins in the car for this purpose.
Here is a close up of a parking payment machine from 2000, when Italy was still on the lire. Instructions are in Italian and English, but they are still confusing! You can pay with coins or a special magnetic card. The picture below the coin slot shows which coins are accepted. The instructions on the main part of the machine show you the steps for paying by coins - put in the coin, press the green button. Another notice shows that 500 lire buys 30 minutes (minimum payment). Put in enough coins to buy the time you want - it is displayed on the screen - then press the green button to get your ticket. Put this on your car dash so it can be seen through the window.
The small print on the left under the hours of operation indicates that you must pay all days of the week.
I don't recommend you bother with a parking card. We had to get one in the nearby caffe because we ran out of change, but it was only 1 hour. You can recharge the cards with this machine, but that means you have coins, so why bother. Just keep a bunch of coins in your car for parking.
Pay Parking: Purchase Ticket at Store
Some parking lots with blue lines have a nearby store where you purchase the ticket instead of at a machine. Look on the parking sign - it usually has a hint about what you need to do.
Note: Some of the images below are from 2001, before the Euro was introduced in Italy, so the old currency (lire) is on the signs.
Pay Parking: Lots
The larger towns have large pay parking lots. Siena has one near the Fortezza. Arezzo has one just outside the town walls. Assisi has several surrounding the town. They are all different. Usually you get a ticket from a machine or a person as you enter. Then, when you are ready to leave, you take the ticket to a booth (on foot) and pay. You either pay a person or a machine. You get your ticket back and, when you drive out, you insert it into a machine which then opens the gate.
The worst thing is if you insert the card into the machine and the gate doesn't open and some attendant speaks to you in Italian through the speaker on the machine and you don't know what they are saying. But, either you eventually figure it out (try putting the card in a different way) or someone comes out and does it for you.
This photo shows the payment booth in a pay parking lot in Viterbo. You pay before you leave the parking lot.
Official Parking Signs
These parking signs are taken from Cristina's Italian Road Signs section. I put them here as a reminder.
Slow Travel Photos - Italy - Instructions - Driving: More photos
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