Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You CAN Get a Ticket in Rome

Yes, you can get a ticket in Rome.  Not for speeding (never seen anyone get pulled over for that and, unlike the US, the cops don't lie in wait around the next curve).  Not for reckless driving, which is essential to moving traffic in Rome (and sometimes for mere survival).  Not for switching lanes without signaling (on many streets, there are no lines dividing one lane from another, and signaling is a now and then thing).  Although we've never seen it happen, you might get a ticket for going through a stop sign or red light, even though it's often done, especially by scooters. 

And you can get a ticket for driving through a camera checkpoint for the ztl (zona a traffico limitato/limited traffic zone) with the wrong kind of vehicle or at the wrong time of day, or through a similar checkpoint marking a lane reserved for taxis and buses.  If either of these systems is operating the tickets are automatic, issued by mail, and usually arrive in about 6 months.  We've gotten two for using a taxi/bus lane, including one for entering the Monti neighborhood from Via Cavour. 

An American friend, an attorney, has a better story.  Unfamiliar with Rome and needing to return a rental car at the Termini station, he circled the station, unknowingly using one of those forbidden taxi/bus lanes monitored electronically.  Not sure where the rental office was, he circled two more times.  The bill for the car rental had him responsible for not one but three tickets, all earned within 15 minutes.  He complained, sent in the money for one ticket, and that was the last he heard of it. 

Sidewalk parking job, at Parco
Leonardo, a Rome suburb
Sidewalk parking for an
evening event at MAXXI.
No chance of a ticket here.
Oddly, in a city where double-parking, and parking on the sidewalk or on the corner of an intersection, have for years been considered responsible behavior, one can, indeed, get a parking ticket. 

Comely ticket writers, on the prowl, Via del Corso
This is especially true in the center, where parking is tightest.  There, and occasionally in some other areas, teams of two ticket "writers" stroll (yes, the perfect word) the streets, writing up parking villains.  (BTW, the photo is angled because it was taken surreptitiously; didn't want to be caught photographing the cops.) 

Their job has been made easier in recent years by new lines demarcating actual parking "spaces" for cars and--smaller ones--for scooters; park in an area not so demarcated, and there is a some (though by no means absolute) risk.  These teams are sometimes of mixed gender, sometimes just men and sometimes just two maids of the meters, always impeccable dressed and usually shapely.  A far cry from LA's legions of punctural (to the minute) "Parking Enforcement" Nazis.   In this regard, you're still better off in Rome. 


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