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Italy - Parking
Most of the cities and towns with tourist attractions have huge parking lots close to the historic centers. Some of them also have multi-story and underground car parks. These are all paid parking areas. On the streets, parking may be free or charged, arranged according to the signs and lines. In Italy, all parking spaces are color coded; the Blue zones are paid parking, White zones are free parking and Yellow zones are reserved for “special” parking. On rare occasions, a spot may also have a Pink line.
It is important to read all the signs next to parking lots, as they provide information on restrictions and so on. A “Crossed hammers” icon on any sign indicates that the mentioned restrictions don’t apply on Sundays and public holidays.
Disc parking is an important aspect of driving in Italy. This system allows free parking in a paid zone, by displaying a blue disc or clock (disco orario) in the windscreen. This clock should show the exact time at which the vehicle was parked at the spot. In most areas, drivers can park their cars for about 2 hours, without paying anything. These discs can be purchased at banks, post offices, petrol stations, tourist centers and tobacconists.
Across most of the regions in this country, blue lines are drawn on the road to mark “paid parking” areas. Drivers don’t just have to pay for parking their cars there; they also have to display the parking receipt or a blue disc on their windscreens.
Commuters who wish to pay for parking will always find a machine (or a place for buying the parking tickets) close to a blue-lined parking space. These machines generally accept coins as well as cards. On payment, the driver gets a receipt which mentions the duration for which the car can be parked in that spot. This receipt should be placed on the windscreen before leaving, to avoid a fine. All drivers should make sure that they get back and move their cars by or before the time mentioned on the stub.
Some of the blue-line parking lots have attendants, who check how long the car will be parked and charge accordingly, before placing a stub on the windscreen. However, fake parking lot attendants are not uncommon in the major cities and therefore, it is important to first determine that there is no machine or counter to dispense parking tickets before paying them. Drivers should never leave the car key with any attendant.
Free parking spaces are few, especially in the major cities. They can be spotted by the white lines drawn around them. It is essential to ensure that the car is parked within the lines to avoid a fine.
While white lines generally mark the free parking spots on the street, they may be limited by time. Drivers should always check the time restrictions to know if they should display their blue discs stating the time they arrived.
Smaller towns have fields and lots designated for parking space. There are no lines drawn around these areas but they are free and people can park for any amount of time.
Parking areas that have been marked with yellow lines have been reserved for handicap drivers and delivery zones. Only those drivers who have a disabled permit or a blue badge can park their cars in these areas. These spots are generally free.
In case all yellow spots in a lot are occupied, a disabled driver can park in another spot without paying the charges, as long as the blue badge and a wheelchair sign are displayed on the car.
Expats cannot use a disabled permit that has been issued in non EU countries for parking in Italy. Blue badges and disabled permits can be obtained from the local town communes or from a consulate.
These spots (which are not a common sight in Italy) are reserved for expectant mothers and women with infants. There are no fines charged, in case others park their cars in a pink-lined space. Authorities do not even check if all cars parked in these areas actually belong to women with children. However, most Italians respect that these spots are reserved for female drivers with children and therefore, they avoid parking their cars in these spots (unless absolutely necessary).
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