One of the things you have to keep in mind when planning to enter Rome by car is that it has a number of ZTL zones spread around its historic districts. ZTL stands for Zona Traffico Limitato the term that applies to certain areas in the cities around Italy where a number of restrictions apply to all incoming car traffic.
The implementation of these zones is mainly targeted at developing pedestrian areas around tourist attractions, minimizing air pollution and preserving ancient monuments. Several ZTL zones are used to protect the key historic districts of Rome that include Rome Centro and Trastevere.
My ZTL Violations
One of the challenges that we faced after arriving to Rome was the local car traffic system. I wouldn’t say it was too confusing but driving around an unknown city with a broken GPS Navigation is always a challenge. I made 3 ZTL violations that day while trying to find our hotel in the center of Rome. Our GPS was not loading and it was impossible to park anywhere to ask for directions. That’s the reason why I made several wrong turns and entered parts of Rome that I didn’t plan to enter. Apparently there were several ZTL signs that I have missed.
My ZTL Fines
Three months later I found three 80 Euros fines for violating the ZTL area in my mail box. This corresponded to the number circles I made trying to locate our hotel. Each ticket showed a picture of my rented car’s license plates along with the address and time of the violation. The ticket also included an internet address of the online payment system along with my login and password. The agency responsible for collecting the payments for various traffic violations in Italy is called European Municipality Outsourcing. After following the included link and entering required data I was able to pay all of my ZTL fines using my credit card.
After reaching our hotel I had a conversation with the concierge about local traffic system. He told me a number of very important things about ZTL zones in Rome that every foreign driver should be aware of:
Zona Traffico Limitato covering the central district of Rome has 22 entry points that are equipped with video cameras.
There are two types of ZTL permits in the city. The first one allows only transit traffic. This means a car can only drive through the designated restricted area without parking. The second type allows entering and parking inside the designated area.
A ZTL permit issued for one district of Rome is not valid inside other districts.
If your hotel is located in one of these restricted traffic areas then ask your hotel concierge to add the license plate number of your car into the local parking police database. This way you’ll to be able to park you car and avoid fines.
Zona Traffico Limitato Timetable in Central Rome
The ZTL zone inside the central district of Rome has the following time restrictions:
All traffic without a valid entrance permit is not allowed to enter the Zona Traffico Limitato on weekdays Monday through Thursday from 6:30 till 18:00.
On Fridays the entrance is restricted from 6:30 in the morning till 18:00 in the evening.
On Saturdays the restrictions apply from 14:00 till 18:00.
Certain streets and areas inside the ZTL zones in Rome may have additional traffic restrictions during the night time on Fridays and Saturdays. These streets have a sign called Zona Traffico Limitato Notturna (night). It restricts all entering traffic from 23:00 till 3:00. This is done to keep away the unwanted traffic created by people visiting the city’s night clubs and restaurants during weekends.
Sundays and Public Holidays are the only days when the ZTL zones in Rome are allowed to enter by all cars without a permit.
In addition to the ZTL entrance points controlled by cameras Rome has a small number of points where the entrance is managed by the local police representatives. The purpose of these entrance gates has something to do with public security and you will probably never use them. Just so that you know, these entrance gates have a slightly different restrictions time schedule. They forbid any incoming traffic without a valid entrance permit from 10:00 – 20:00 on Monday through Friday and from 10:00 till 18:00 on Saturdays.
ZTL zones are a common thing in most of the major cities in Italy. Bigger cities have multiple Zona Traffico Limitato areas spread around their historic districts. There are hundreds of ZTL fines issued every day in cities like Rome bringing tens of millions of Euros to the state budget each year. Please remember:
GPS navigation systems don’t recognize ZTL areas which results in the higher possibility of getting a fine.
The authorities have 1 full year to send you the fine after your violation details have been received from the control cameras.
After receiving the fine you have 2 months to either hold the payment or initiate a dispute.
If no action is taken on your behalf during the dedicated 2 month period the amount of fine will double.
Ignoring fines is actually a criminal offence in Italy.
There are cases when the fines can be enforced by the country’s criminal law (usually for the larger amounts made up of several fines).
The best thing you can do in this situation is explore your route in advance and pay attention to the signs.
Want to find out more about the Italian culture? Check out my post about tipping in Italy!