28 August 2006

Where to park?

Italy was not made for vehicles, especially for parking. Since the majority of Italian cities’ original street plans predate the vehicle by several hundred years they just are not designed for cars and minimal (at best) accommodation is made for parking cars. This even seems to apply to newer development areas.

There are mainly three places you can park your car: in a parking lot (mostly non-existent in city centers), on the street or on the sidewalk. Yes it is very common to see cars parked on sidewalks during busy parts of the day. Double and triple parking is also a common practice. It seems that you can park your car anywhere for a short period as long as you have your hazard flashers on.

There are supposed to be three different designations for parking: white lines along the street means parking is free; blue lines mean you have to pay at a little meter and put a ticket in your window; and then there are “no parking” zones. There are usually signs confirming these areas stating when you have to pay to park and what the hourly rate is.

Last week we were in Anzio to run some errands in the morning and the streets were packed with cars. We made a couple rounds past our usual parking areas which were all over-full. The other option would be to park a kilometer away and walk back which was not appealing on a warm August day. Finally, we spotted an area where we saw no signs but there were other vehicles parked in the same area so we took an available spot. We figured we would at least pay for parking and put the little ticket in the window. Our motto was “When in Rome do like the Romans do”.

Well, when we returned from our errands about an hour later we found a parking ticket on the windshield, written about 15 minutes before we had returned. There were other tickets on the other cars in the same location, always more appealing to share your pain.

Since the vehicle is in our friend Francesca’s name, we felt it important to quickly pay this 35 Euro fee and a few days later went to the Poliza Municipale to hand over our cash. The clerk asked for the vehicle owner’s name to look it up but seemed confused when we gave him Francesca’s name; the title to the vehicle has not yet been transferred from the prior owner. Guess we could have gotten away without paying!

For me it will now be blue or white lines for parking…or maybe I will make better use of those flashers.

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