Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

I want to express my concerns and give everyone who reads my blog a warning. I’ve always loved Italy—three of my top favorite places, Rome, Venice and Lake Garda. It’s a beautiful country, beautiful people and spectacular history.

The problem and concern I have regarding Italy are their driving laws. Back in February, we rented a car from Hertz and drove to Lake Garda. From there, we went to Verona and Bologna. This past month, my Love received a letter from Hertz stating that they are charging him 35 euros EACH for three moving violations he received in Italy that spanned 15 minutes. He was stunned because he hadn’t even received any moving violations from Italy, so we both went online to do some investigation.

Complaints Board – Traffic ticket complaints in Italy and regarding Hertz.

Fodor’s – Traffic Tickets in Italy

Budget Travel – Italy: Fines for rental-car drivers on the rise

Italy has limited driving zones within city limits to reduce fumes and traffic. In our search, we have found Italy issues close to 27 million traffic violations a year—mainly to tourists. I understand that people should know the driving laws in other countries, but there’s a difference between speeding, running over people, knocking things over, as opposed to driving in an area that is restricted. Why aren’t there gates preventing people from entering if you don’t have a city limit card?

First off, Hertz should have said something to us regarding these limited zone areas. But the fact is, they don’t because they make money off the administration fees. We believe the traffic tickets are from a camera snapping a picture of our car as we passed on the outer circle of the city because we got lost. The times are like 4:01, 4:06 and 4:13 (these aren’t the exact times), so we can assume the tickets are from a camera snapshot. So Italy is going to fine us three times for passing an area in a 15 minute time frame, and the cost could be around 115 euros for EACH violation. I think it’s a disgrace that Hertz purposely doesn’t say anything so they can make more money and that Italy would fine a tourist for getting lost—which the times clearly prove.

We left a beautiful country after having a beautiful time, and now we will have to pay for that time with an additional cost close to 500 euros.

This is a warning to anyone who are considering on going to Italy. Forget about it, or don’t bother renting a car if you plan on going into an Italian city center. You’ll pay more than you bargained for and that leaves a lasting impression.


  1. Wow, what a bum deal! It must be so frustrating for you guys, not to mention nearly bank-breaking, for something you weren't even made aware of. I hope you can fight it and at least be a voice that's heard. And ugh... those freaking cameras snapping supposed moving violations. What a money grab.

    p.s. love your Steve Jobs quote. RIP *she types in onto her Mac keyboard* :(

  2. Bum it is! In reading through the information, it doesn't look like there's much we can do about fighting it. The only thing I thought to do was send out a warning.

    Yes, it was sad about Steve Jobs. I know when he stepped down in August that it was only a matter of a few months.

    I only have a ipod, not the techy chick, but he changed the world in how we listen to music and communicate. He is now a historic visionary.

  3. Hi Bea,

    Very timely as I printed this article to share with my brother in law before he left early yesterday morning for a three month stay in Italy. He will be based in the Naples, Salerno area with relatives, but will certainly be renting a car and seeing other parts of the country.

    He takes a trip there every few years and I believe his last time was about five years ago. So I'll bet a lot has changed "ticket wise" since then. At least he has been made aware.

    Sorry that this had to happen to you guys and appears to be another municipal government scam to make up the their shortage of operating funds. Don't get me started on the traffic light cameras we have here. Articles have been written that they have timed the yellow light to be 3 seconds long instead of 5. This unfairly increases the odds of receiving a ticket. Your alternative of course is to suddenly slam on the brakes so the car in the back rear ends you.

    Take care,

  4. Hey Veejay,

    I hope it helps your brother-in-law. At least you gave him the information.

    I agree with you that it’s a scam in a sense. There are reasonable laws and unreasonable laws for profit. Life is about learning and we certainly learned after this experience.

    Have a good day.