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Traffic police scam in Pisa?

by butterwb Online Now Apr 6, 2007 at 4:32 PM

My wife and I were driving through Italy last May on our honeymoon. We stopped in Pisa for about 45 minutes - just long enough to see the tower. In that time we received a90 parking ticket and a147 moving violation ("circulating in restricted traffic zone without authorization").

I just received the moving violation notice today. It states that I was not stopped because it supposedly
would have caused danger to other vehiciles.

Not that I'm perfect, but this is the first and only moving violation I have received since 1984, and the first parking ticket since 1995. We had no problem in the other cities we visited in Italy (Florence, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Sienna). The actions of the Pisa police department seem suspicious, to say the least.

Has anyone else had this experience in Pisa? Does anyone have any advice? I've already been billed for the parking ticket through Hertz Europe, but haven't yet sent payment for the moving violation.

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16 Answers
  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by mccalpin Online Now Apr 6, 2007 at 6:47 PM

    Pisa, like some other Italian cities, evidentally has a "zona di traffico limitato" (ZTL) (a limited traffic area) although after 30 minutes of searching through the city's website, I haven't found the map of it yet (just a lot of references to it). These zones are in the city center, to reduce the amount of traffic. In Rome, for example, this zone is the interesting part of the city center, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Tower and Duomo area in Pisa were in it.

    Based on my experience with Avis in Rome, I would assume that when you rented the car from Hertz, that the employees didn't tell you anything about limited circulation in some city centers. In Rome in 2000, I asked the employee behind the counter about it to find out where the current zone was, and she said she didn't know - it kept moving all the time, and she was generally unhelpful. Only when I got into town and saw the little traffic signs did I start to realize where the zone was - but if you don't read legalese Italian, you didn't have a prayer of knowing that you were driving into a limited traffic zone - besides, you don't see the sign until you are DRIVING past it into the off-limits zone...too late...

    I don't know what your relationship with Hertz is, but if you are a frequent user, I would write them a nice letter refusing to pay the moving violation because the employees made no effort to warn you about such things (as I assume they didn't). I supposed that Hertz could argue that you didn't rent the car in Pisa so why should they, but if you rented the car in Rome or other cities with "ZTL"s, you would have the same argument.

    As for the parking ticket, well, it's just as well that you've paid it...you were almost certainly in a no parking or limited parking zone, whether you knew it or not...it was probably signed, no matter how badly...and I can think of parking tickets I've gotten in the US for the exact same reason ;-)

    Bill

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by Jetgirly Online Now Apr 7, 2007 at 9:41 AM

    Bill, did you expect the guy at the Avis desk to warn them about the restricted traffic zones in Florence, Genova, Milan, Venice, Siena AND Pisa? What about every small town along the road between those places where this guy might have stopped for lunch or gas?

    Pretty much every Italian city has a restricted traffic zone downtown. If they didn't, workers and tourists would take up all the downtown parking spots and residents wouldn't have access to their homes! I'm sure the restricted zone was marked and you just misunderstood or didn't notice the sign.

    When you drive in a country where you're unfamiliar with the laws, you take a risk. When there may be a language barrier that risk is increased. You broke the law, knowingly or unknowingly. Accept responsibility for your actions, don't be an "Ugly American" (I'm just taking a wild guess here that you are American), pay the ticket and forget about it.

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by mccalpin Online Now Apr 7, 2007 at 6:18 PM

    Well, Carly, I admit that part of my irritation is that I first heard about the ZTL in Rome in 1996 when staying out at the University of Dallas campus near Castel Gandolfo, and the staff warned me about the zone, but when I returned to Rome in 2000 and asked the person at Avis at Fiumicino specifically about the ZTL, she blew me off with the attitude that it was too much trouble for her to be bothered to give me any information about a specific zona di traffico limitato in the very town where I was renting the car...no, I do not think it unreasonable that a service organization provide SERVICE(!).

    This was a problem for me because when I lived in Rome, there was no ZTL, so I was accustomed to driving anywhere (and did) - it's not like I was a total stranger to the place, I had just been gone for a while.

    To be fair, as I was writing my response, it occured to me from rereading the post that the OP had not rented in Pisa, which, I admit, makes a difference...but if the OP rented the car in any city that has a ZTL, then I really do think it would be customer-focused, to say the least, for the car rental agencies to warn their customers about such places in the cities they are going to likely be driving in...I mean, they give you road maps...wouldn't it make sense to give you a road map that shows the roads that are off-limits to you for much of the day?

    At the very least, I expect the huge multi-national car agencies with substantial North American business to be more sensitive to its "frequent flyers" as I certainly have been for Avis. You are right that the driver is ultimately responsible to obey the local laws...but I expect better of a company from whom I have rented cars likely more than 100 times (often for a week at a time)...poor service, I can get anywhere...

    Bill

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by lizie1 Online Now Apr 20, 2007 at 10:53 AM

    Yes! This happens to lots of people, go to blogfromitaly.wordpress.com and see all comments Re: speeding fines in Pisa. (Although drivers are not speeding) Pisa is the one most frequently sited places that this happens in and it is usually a rental car driver. This has happened to us too and many others. The wording of the notice is usually the same as yours. Still don't know if it is a scam or not. I understand that parking and traffic from tourist can be a problem to local residents but judging by the number of people caught out in this way it would seem that the area must be badly signposted. You could say ignorance is no excuse but you would think that judging by the number of foreign tourist affected that the Pisa municipal police would do something to help people stop inadvertently breaking their laws. If we were speeding or putting lives at risk then okay we would deserve punishment. Punishment is meant to be a deterrent, but driving in a restricted area, when the drivers don't know they are in a restricted area. Whats that all about. It should theoretically never happen. If you knew you were about to do wrong you would not do it. You would think the warnings would be made obvious to stop us ingnorant motorist from disturbing their residents, but at 110 Euros a time to the municipal police and 18 Euros to the car hire company why should they make it obvious? Very lucrative all round I would think.

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  • Harri-Mo's Profile Photo

    Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by Harri-Mo Online Now Aug 6, 2007 at 5:14 AM

    While planning our trip to Italy I found several references to restricted zones, mostly on hotel web sites. I am very leary of this myself since returning a rental car in London. Wham! A fine and more money spent. The Michelin Italy Motoring Alas has city maps with "zone" clearly marked...not sure if the Michelin website could help.

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by JanfromPa Online Now Oct 13, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    I also received a parking ticket from Pisa, in the mail this past weekend. It was from October 2007...our hotel manager specifically pointed out a spot for us to park, assuring us it was ok...there wasn't a meter or any indication of a no park zone...nor was there any ticket the next morning on the car. This really ticks me off...since the desk manager at the hotel made it seem like it was "OK" and "no problemo"...I have email my case for appeal to the address on the statement Pisa Police sent me... listen up all you tourist heading to Pisa... make sure you stay at a place that truly has a place to park your car,
    otherwise you'll be taking some excedrin more often (like me) than you want to. beware....Pisa will get you...one way or the other...if you are driving..

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by jfwein85 Online Now Nov 14, 2008 at 5:17 AM

    Funny I just received a notice from Pisa for circulating in a restricted zone. It is November 2008 and I was in Italy May 2007. According to bella-toscana.com, the authorities have one year AFTER THEY HAVE OBTAINED the offenders details to issue a traffic ticket. I checked my credit card bills from last year and wouldn't you know it was exactly one year ago that Hertz charged me for providing information to authorities in Florence AND Pisa. I paid the Florence ticket easily through the collection agency EMO but the Pisa ticket does not provide easy payment options. I will need to investigate further.

    Initially I was a bit angry, yes it is a bit of a scam but ultimately it is a small price to pay to be in such beautiful and historic places. (115 euro in my case) I think admission to Disney is more!!

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by markma Online Now Apr 16, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    On April 16, 2009, I recieved a citation from Municipality of Pisa for 115 euro ($152 American) for this "Circulating in restricted traffic zone without authorization. The date of alleged violation is May 15, 2008, yes 11 months later.
    Does issuing this fine help ensure that I won't do this again. No as I left Italy 11 months ago. This is just a scam to get money from unsuspecting tourist. If I don't pay within 60 days the fine goes up to 187.50 euro. What a SCAM....

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by ibillem Online Now Nov 21, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    Did you pay this fine? I just received Pisa parking ticket from Sept. "08. I'm considering not paying.

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by TravellerSam Online Now Nov 22, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Yesterday - 21 November 2009, I received exactly the same "fine" for "circulating in a restricted zone....." in Pisa in early August 2008 - that's 470-something daya later.

    I am minded to tell these people to go get stuffed. I recall being in a square in Pisa which was accessed via a one-way street and not being able to get out of that square except by driving back down the one-way street the wrong way OR by entering the restricted zone.

    Surely this is no more than a money-grabbing scam perpetrated on unsuapecting tourists by a corrupt, money-grabbing, Mafia-riddled administration.


    Thoughts?

    TS

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by mccalpin Online Now Nov 22, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    "Surely this is no more than a money-grabbing scam perpetrated on unsuapecting tourists by a corrupt, money-grabbing, Mafia-riddled administration. "

    hahaha...Sam, the government probably isn't corrupt and it's certainly not Mafia-ridden, and I imagine that they are no more money-grabbing than any other government...the problem - as we noted above - is that tourists are generally completely unaware of even the existence of ZTLs, much less where (or when) they are.

    Think about it...we have arcane rules, too...such as right turn on red, which is legal is nearly every state, but not in New York City and a few other places (countries in Europe like Italy don't even know what you're talking about when you say 'right turn on red'); or our HOV lanes in Texas require only 2 people but they require 3 people in California, don't they? How would visitors to the US learn these rules?

    I think it is a serious problem in customer service that foreign tourists don't know about the ZTLs, but I blame the car rental firms that rent to non-Italian tourists that don't even answer questions about the ZTLs when you ask, much less provide any information without prompting. The city has notified its local residents through all the local means, but how could they communicate this to every possible visitor in the world?

    Bill

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by andre2906 Online Now Jun 7, 2010 at 4:18 AM

    I recieved a 115 EURO moving violation this month after spending 2 days in Pisa in oct 2008, more than a year and a half after. I tried to go on their web site but I was unseccessful. There is also a phone No which i will try. I am considering not paying this ticket but I would like to get rid of this burden. The payment method that they suggest is through a bank in Pisa. I will also check with my bank if this is genuine. This is the second traffic violation that I recieve from my 2 weeks trip in Italy. I have paid the first one which had a internet payment option. I would like suggestions as to the possible consequences of not paying this ticket. Do they have international revovery agreement? I would welcome any suggestions or comments. This is getting to be a nightmare. Am I going to recieve more tickets from other cities that I have visited in Italy?

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by gnojham Online Now Oct 26, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    [quote]""Think about it...we have arcane rules, too...such as right turn on red, which is legal is nearly every state, but not in New York City and a few other places (countries in Europe like Italy don't even know what you're talking about when you say 'right turn on red'); or our HOV lanes in Texas require only 2 people but they require 3 people in California, don't they? How would visitors to the US learn these rules? ""[/quote]

    True. However, if you get caught making an illegal turn, or using the HOV lane illegally, you get stopped and learn right away what the rules are, or you dont get stopped at all. if you are a rule follower, then you learned your lesson and at worst will pay 1 fine.
    In italy, and apparently other places, if you are unaware of the ZTL areas and go in, you dont know you are breaking any laws, and you may very well do it again, and again, and again, all unknowingly and then are raped up to a year later with little memory of wtf happened.

    I spent a couple weeks in italy in may. I just got a letter about a ZTL infraction from milan. i googled the location and used street view. there is a ZTL sign (which i was totally unfamiliar with) at the entrance to the street. But, i made a right turn onto that street and there was no signage warning me that i shouldnt turn. once i turned, i was in trouble regardless if i was familiar with the rules and the signs or not.

    Im expecting at least 2-3 more fines from Soave, maybe 1 from verona as well. Im hoping the total from the trip is less than 10 fines.

    I did go to Pisa, but from looking at the maps, it doesnt appear i entered any ZTLs, at least I hope not.

    If i was made aware of the ZTLs in milan, when i first broke the law, i would surely have avoided any future fines.

    Anybody who thinks this isnt a money making scam isnt thinking clearly.
    The fact that in some instances they collect monies from the car rental agencies who then charge you before you even know youve committed an offense, is proof enough.

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by susanadelahuerta Online Now Feb 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Last September in Italy we got a fine in Arezzo and in Pisa for circulating in a restricted traffic zone.
    We got the information on how to pay our fine from Pisa calling SEPI on the following phone number 0039050220561.
    We were told to make a transfer to the Banca di Credito di Fornacete, for SEPI comune di Pisa, etc.
    It was the tourisme office in Pisa who gave us SEPI phone number, it seems that SEPI is an agency for fines collection for certain Italy towns.
    If you have as well a fine in Arezzo, the police phone number to call is 00390575377565 in the afternoon. They will give you the information on the bank account they use.
    We are from Spain and Europcar charged us 48 euros each fine for notifying of the violation but they didn´t even tell us how to pay it. Their customer service does not answer neither phone nor mails.
    We prefered to pay the fines and forget about it although it was an unpleasant surprise. Now we learn for next time.

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  • Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by SusanneSch Online Now Oct 6, 2015 at 2:33 AM

    Absolutely crazy how easily you get a ticket for driving into a ZTL (zona a trafico limitato) in Italy. The Italian residents are registered and therefore don't get fined. If you just do what the locals do, you get fined!
    Better inform yourself well. There is a great website that is funded by the European Commission:
    http://urbanaccessregulations.eu. They give you all the relevant information you need to avoid gettting a ticket.

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  • mccalpin's Profile Photo

    Re: Traffic police scam in Pisa?

    by mccalpin Online Now Oct 6, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    Susanne, that's a very interesting link...I am going to have to play with it to see how well it works...thanks!

    Bill

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