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Pisa Traffic Scam

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Locust Valley, NY
Level Contributor
12 posts
19 reviews
Pisa Traffic Scam

I thought I would create a new thread on this topic since the Italians are apprarently still at it with their hard-to-see warning signs and hidden traffic cameras. For those of you who don't know, some Italian cities have restricted traffic zones and if you enter them during certain hours of the day -- even if you're lost or looking for your hotel -- your rental car is photographed and you are considered to have violated a traffic law, even if you never see a cop and never see a ticket on your car. Several months after the alleged infraction, the rental car company you used adds a service charge -- usually around $35-$50 -- to your credit card account without any notice. Some people mistakenly think this is the traffic fine itself, but it is actually the rental company charging YOU for it to give up your name and address to the Italian police. Up to a year after that time, you might receive one or more notices of a fine in the mail directly from the Italian city's police. From what I have read, the fines are about $150-$200 for each infraction and the cameras can apparently snap every four minutes. This is a disgusting treatment of tourists in an otherwise wonderful and hospitable country. (You would think the politicians in Pisa would spend their time cleaning up the filthy and tacky souvenir area across from the tower instead of preying on innocent tourists.)

I just received one of the service charge notices from Hertz after being totally unaware that I had done anything wrong and being very careful to park legally in Pisa. Here is my advice, based on what I have read in various online forums and sites:

1. Dispute the service charge on your credit card account. While the rental agreement says you are liable for traffic fines, you did not authorize the service charge. I got it immediately removed, no questions asked, thanks to American Express. Because of Hertz' complicity in this scam, I will encourage all my friends and business acquaintances to use other car rental companies in the future. Fight these charges tooth and nail.

2. If you were going to your hotel when the photo was taken and have received a notice of a fine directly from the police, you can contact the hotel and ask them to advise the police that you were traveling to your lodging. This is apparently one way to erase the fine.

3. Do you pay the fine? Well, that's up to you. I would pay if I felt I did something wrong. But I can tell you that if and when I get my notice, I'm going to do what a lot of other innocent Americans do -- ignore it. How do you say "Not one thin dime" in Italian?

Silver Spring...
Level Contributor
10,740 posts
1. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

quit whining

Locust Valley, NY
Level Contributor
12 posts
19 reviews
2. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

I see from your other posts that you're apparently a troll. Mind your own business.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
529 posts
89 reviews
3. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

Thank you for the heads up, I am sorry for your misfortune. Great of you to take the time to warn others!

United States
Destination Expert
for Cinque Terre, Lucca
Level Contributor
9,158 posts
14 reviews
4. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

I'm sorry but it highly unlikely that you will receive any sympathy here on these forums. We warn people time and again and expect them to take responsibility for their errors.

You seem to have been prepared with the knowledge that these areas exist from your research. It is not only tourists who cross the ZTL lines. Everyone who does so gets treated the same.


Locust Valley, NY
Level Contributor
12 posts
19 reviews
5. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

No one's looking for sympathy. The signs are not always clearly posted, if at all, and the cameras are hidden. Streets in Italian cities are confusing and many of us don't go into these zones intentionally. Sometimes, we're just lost. If you make a wrong turn in New York and you're seen by a police officer, he/she may stop you, but you'll at least be reminded of the rules immediately and you'll probably be let go with a warning (not $250+ in fines and service charges) if you let the officer know that you simply made a mistake as a tourist. Sorry, but the Italian practices are surreptitious and sleazy and, as I said earlier, highly uncharacteristic for such a wonderful and hospitable country.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
22,806 posts
57 reviews
6. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

A camera taking your photo to prove a transgression is no different from a speed camera. TABarrets avatar is what the ZTL signs look like. Really quite clear. Do not pass one of these. There will be an alternative (perhaps awkward, but it will be there)

As to contacting the hotel, yes, one should arrange this in advance where possible, then the authorities will know in advance that your car is not to be fined for entering. Often you cannot park there, but you can load and unload people and luggage.

If you didn't do this, you can still ask the hotel for verification of your stay to use to have the fine rescinded.

Of course you had an International Driving Permit, knew "senso unico" meant "one way" knew to give way to the right even if the road on the right was minor, unless signed otherwise, knew the alcohol blood limit is less than 0.05 and that the speed limit changes in the wet.

Level Contributor
296 posts
7. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

Just a few suggestion to avoid fine in Italy:

If you are going to have the Hotel in the ZTL you have to ASK TO THE RECEPTIONIST to give to the local Police the PLATE number of your car.

This is the only way to avoid the fine. Ask to the Hotel a confirmation paper they did it.

Somentimes they say yes and they don't do this.

If you don't have the Hotel in the ZTL, stay outside the centre and have a little nice walk or take the public service. This is the same for bigger locations, like Florence or Siena, and smaller locations, like Cortona, Pienza, Montepulciano, Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, Chiusi...

Check the parking line.

BLU line you have to pay.

White one NO, but check if you can stop for free only for a few hours, and in this case use the clock in have the car.

Be carefull with the speed limits, especially on the road for Pisa, the FI-PI-LI.

Is full in cameras, the road looks like you can drive faster, but the speed limit is 90 kms/h.

When you pick up your car rental, ask for all the informations you need to avoid a fine in the area you are driving.

Level Contributor
745 posts
3 reviews
8. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

"Do you pay the fine? Well, that's up to you. I would pay if I felt I did something wrong. But I can tell you that if and when I get my notice, I'm going to do what a lot of other innocent Americans do -- ignore it."

It is grossly irresponsible to advise people to disobey legal penalties for their own errors.

And how can you be called an "innocent American" when an infringement of the law has clearly taken place, however unwittingly? If you have broken the law, then you have broken the law, and you are guilty, and that is the end of it. However much it may hurt, you should accept your guilt and the penalty that comes from it.

Grow up and take responsilibility for your own actions.

England, United...
Level Contributor
2,884 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam


Thanks for the advice; in nearly a decade of driving from the UK to Italy we never knew about giving way to the right even if the road on the right was minor, unless signed otherwise, nor knew the alcohol blood limit is less than 0.05. Still better have never had a fine, maybe tracking down GB number plates is too much hassle for the Italian police!! The answer could be to drive with GB plates!

Imperia, Italy
Destination Expert
for Italian Riviera
Level Contributor
24,579 posts
10. Re: Pisa Traffic Scam

Unlike in France, where drivers sometimes do aggressively insist on using their priority if entering from the right, this is not normally a problem in Italy as such drivers do not expect miracles to happen - drivers at normal speed on a main road would simply never way. In any case, the law only applies to intersections where there are no signs or road-markings which over-ride it, and these are rare outside very rural areas..

This priority rule used to be a big problem on roundabouts (traffic circles) when traffic entering the roundabout had priority over traffic on it. But in 2000 the law changed and traffic on a roundabout now has priority. In theory, at any rate... as there are roundabouts that I use which at some times of day you would never ever get through if you didn't break the law.