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DRIVING

EXPLAINED: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?

Returned to your vehicle to find an unwelcome surprise on your windscreen from the Italian authorities? Here's what you need to know about contesting the fine.

EXPLAINED: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?
Here's what you need to know if you get a parking fine in Italy. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)

Parking fines are a source of frustration when driving in Italy just as much as anywhere else.

Getting a fixed penalty notice stings, and it can happen easily enough whether you’re a resident or visitor – especially if you’re not yet familiar with the Italian road rules.

READ ALSO: How visitors to Italy can avoid driving penalties

Here’s what to watch out for when parking in Italy, and what you can do if you do receive a penalty.

Types of parking fines

It’s pretty easy to get landed with a parking fine if you don’t know the Italian road system. Your first priority is to check the colour of the lines you park in and the accompanying road signs, as these are an indicator of whether you need to pay and how much.

If you’re not using a paid-for car park or ‘parcheggio‘, you’ll mainly come across blue, yellow and white parking lines across Italian towns and cities.

Each of these carry different meanings for who can park there and the payment required.

They often work in combination with parking signs, so take care to read those in conjunction with the colours of lines you see on the road. For instance, you might see the parking ban symbol with workday hours, meaning you can only park there after working hours.

A “No parking” sign at Fiumicino Airport, south-west of Rome.  AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

Blue lines generally mean that you need to pay to park your car there – but again, take care to check for any additional signs that may prohibit parking in certain hours.

To pay for your parking spot within blue lines, there are usually parking metres which will often accept coins, notes and bankcards. They almost always require your number plate (targa).

Some tabaccherie and edicole (kiosks) sell a parking scratch card called ‘gratta e sosta‘ (scratch and stay), which you activate by scratching off the date of parking and place it on your dashboard like a ticket.

There are also parking apps you can download ahead of time, like EasyPark and Phonzie – or you can simply look on the metre itself for different ways to pay, as some cities have their own parking app.

READ ALSO: Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

Yellow lines are reserved for certain users and vehicles, such as resident spaces, disabled car parking and service cars such as taxis.

There are sometimes also pink lines (parcheggio rosa) which are designated for pregnant women and mothers with children up to two years old. Anyone parking here would need a permit to prove they’re eligible to leave their car there.

White lines, on the other hand, usually mean that the parking is free, but always check the roadside for any additional signs or instructions in case.

Take care if you think there’s a parking spot with no lines at all. You wouldn’t be allowed to park near traffic lights or double park for example.

And if you’re driving a motorbike or scooter, resist the temptation to squeeze it in anywhere. Parking rules apply to these vehicles too, so if you leave your motorbike on the pavement like a bicycle, you may find it’s been removed – with a hefty fine to boot.

The fines vary from around €40 to over €400 according to article 157 of The Highway Code. How much you are demanded to pay depends on the violation and whether you decide to leave the engine running to keep the air conditioning on, for example.

How to pay your fine

You can pay the fine from abroad either by bank transfer or some municipalities allow you to pay online via a debit or credit card. In Italy itself, you can also pay fines at the post office (Poste Italiane).

Get to know the various parking signs to avoid a fine in Italy. Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Deadlines

If you found a ticket on your windshield, you usually have 15 days to pay and you’ll get a discount if you pay it within five days.

If you receive it in the post, you have 60 days but again, will get a 30 percent discount if you transfer the funds within five days, according to article 202 of the Italian Highway Code.

If you exceed the terms of 60 days, the fine will increase and will keep increasing for late payment interest.

The authorities assume no responsibility in postal delays.

How to contest a parking ticket

If you believe the parking fine is invalid, you can lodge an appeal. However, you’ll need to make sure that you truly have grounds to contest the penalty according to the Highway Code – claiming that you simply didn’t know you couldn’t park in a certain space won’t wash.

If you choose to appeal, you forego the chance to get a discount by paying immediately and instead risk the fine increasing in the meantime.

Note: you cannot contest a fine after paying it, as paying the fine indicates you acknowledge the offence.

Should your fine be truly invalid – and especially if it’s high – you may want to go ahead with navigating Italian bureaucracy to avoid paying it.

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

Accepted reasons must prove a defect, such as if the fine you receive contains incorrect information.

So if the licence plate number, the date and time of the alleged infringement or the location of the fine are incorrect, you can dispute the parking fine.

Check whether the articles of the Highway Code that have been infringed are listed correctly and how to lodge an appeal. If these defects are present, it will be possible to challenge the fine.

However, bear in mind that you might not get away with it on a technicality. If the car model is incorrect but the registration number is right, it’s unlikely the fine will be cancelled.

Other reasons to contest a parking ticket in Italy include if the parking spot wasn’t clearly marked.

You can contest a parking fine in Italy if you have good grounds. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

There are a few ways to dispute the fine. You can begin by contacting the municipality directly, but this doesn’t suspend the contestation. At the same time you can lodge an appeal with Prefect and the Justice of the Peace.

Appeals against fines before the Justice of the Peace can be submitted within 30 days of notification or assessment, while appeals to the Prefect can be lodged within 60 days.

This time limit starts from the moment you are aware of the fine. In other words, it runs from the date of receiving the fine.

Appeals to the Prefect must be made to the city where the violation was said to have been committed and must be written in Italian.

Contained in the letter are the reasons for contesting the fine and certain details such as your personal information, circumstances of the ticket, the legal grounds for the appeal and a request to cancel the fine.

This route is more administrative and reassesses what Italian traffic police deemed to be a violation of the Highway Code.

Appeals to the Justice of the Peace, on the other hand, are judicial and as such, are presided over by a judge.

Therefore, it’s clear that it’s best to refer to the Prefect in cases of obvious mistakes in a report, such as an incorrect licence plate number.

The judicial appeal must be sent by registered mail to the relevant municipality with return receipt or delivered in person to the clerk’s office.

As much evidence as possible will help your claim if you take this route, such as photographs and legal references showing how the fine is considered unlawful.

Please note The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. See full details of Italy’s Highway Code here and visit our travel section for the latest updates.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES

What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Hot weather, beach trips, gelato, and the return of summer tourism: there are a few things we know to expect in Italy this July. But what else is in store for people living in the country?

What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Strikes and travel disruption

While Italy has so far been spared the chaos seen at airports in many European countries recently, that doesn’t mean travel to or within the country is guaranteed to be straightforward this summer.

Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in two Italian airline staff strikes in June, and unions warned that these were likely to be the first in “a long series” of protests “throughout the entire summer” amid ongoing disputes over pay and working conditions.

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Transport strikes of all types are a staple of summer in Italy, with protests often disrupting rail services and local public transit – usually on Fridays.

No further nationwide strikes have yet been announced for July. See The Local’s Italian travel news section for the latest news on any expected major disruption.

Heatwave and drought

Summer has only just officially begun in Italy, where the hot season is said to start from June 20th. But temperature-wise, this year it feels like we’ve been in the middle of summer for a lot longer already.

As July begins, one thing many Italian residents want to know is: will the weather change? As well as being profoundly uncomfortable, weeks of unusually high heat and humidity across the country have caused the worst drought for 70 years, as well as fuelling wildfires and electricity shortages

READ ALSO: Drought in Italy: What water use restrictions are in place and where?

The current heatwave is, at least, expected to break in the first days of July. But overall, it’s set to be a long, dry summer. All forecasts so far point to Italy potentially breaking heat records, set in 2003.

In the meantime, we’ve got some very easy ways to save water during the shortages, plus tips for keeping cool in the heat like an Ancient Roman.

Covid rule changes?

For the first time in a long time, Italy has almost no Covid restrictions in place and the rules are not expected to change in the coming weeks.

The remaining rules you’ll need to be aware of if visiting Italy are the continuing mask mandate on public transport (in place until at least the end of September) and the requirement for anyone who tests positive to isolate for at least one week.

Following public debate over whether the isolation rule should now the scrapped, Italy’s health minister has confirmed he has no intention of changing it anytime soon.

Mask rules have been eased in Italy except for on public transport – though they remain recommended in crowded places. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

€200 bonus payments

In July, the Italian state will begin paying out its one-off €200 ‘bonus’ – a benefit intended to offset the rising cost of living, intended for everyone with an annual income of under €35,000 gross.

But, while some details of the payment scheme remain unclear, some people will reportedly have to wait until September or October to receive their payment.

Here’s the official information so far about who will be eligible and how to claim.

Digital invoicing requirement for freelancers

Italy is bringing in new rules from July 1st that mean changes for freelancers who are on the ‘flat tax’ rate. While digital invoicing may sound like it should be more straightforward than paper, there are new regulations and online systems to get to grips with.

Find out what self-employed workers need to know about the new ‘fatturazione elettronica’ or digital invoicing system here.

Fuel price cap extended

As the cost of living continues to bite, Italy’s government has confirmed it will extend its fuel price reduction throughout July.

Motorists can expect the current 30-cent cut to the cost per litre for petrol, diesel, LPG and methane to continue until August 2nd.

Summer sales

By law, shops in Italy are allowed only two big sales a year – one in winter, one in summer – and the summer sale kicks off in early July.

The sales continue for several weeks, with the exact start and end dates varying depending on which Italian region you’re in. See this summer’s sale dates here.

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Summer holidays

Schools broke up for summer weeks ago: Italy’s long school summer holidays began in June and go on until early or mid-September, depending on the region.

But adults usually don’t begin their somewhat shorter summer vacations until July, meaning this is the month many Italian families will go away.

With an estimated 90 percent of Italian holidaymakers planning to travel within their own country this year, plus the return of mass tourism from overseas, prepare to arrive early to find a spot for your towel on the beach this month.

There are no national bank holidays during July in Italy.

Festivals and events

Summer is full of events and, with Covid restrictions lifted, Italy is ready to host some of its largest festivals again. 

In July, people can look forward to the return of major events including the Palio di Siena, the first of which is held on July 2nd, and the Umbria Jazz festival from July 8-17th. There’s also the ongoing Verona Opera Festival and the Venice Art Biennale this month.

With numerous local fairs, cultural events and food-focused festivals held across the country, there will no doubt be something happening wherever you are in the country.

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