6 Ways to Avoid a ZTL Fine While Driving In Italy
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Italy is a wonderful country to explore by car. But if you’re going to drive in Italy, you need to know about ZTLs.
ZTL stands for Zona a Traffico Limitato, or restricted traffic zone. A lot of cities (large and small) in Italy have areas where only residents and authorized vehicles are allowed to enter or drive through. Non-authorized vehicles (like unsuspecting tourists) may get steep fines for driving in a ZTL.
So read on to learn how to avoid making the same mistakes I did driving into a ZTL (don’t waste your Italian wine money on fines)!
What are ZTL Restrictions in Italy?
ZTL zones are an attempt by the Italian government to reduce congestion and pollution in the heart of Italy’s cities and to protect historic areas and monuments. These old cities and villages places were not built for cars, so ZTLs restrict access only to vehicles that are authorized or need to be there.
The rules of ZTLs change from place to place, so read the signs carefully and don’t hesitate to ask local authorities if you have questions.
Can you imagine if all of Italy’s residents and tourists started to drive in the narrow streets of Rome, Florence, or Milan? It would be chaos!
Who is authorized to enter ZTL
People who live and work in the area, emergency vehicles, and guests of hotels within the ZTL are authorized to drive in the restricted area.
If you’re staying in a hotel within a ZTL, make sure to speak to the hotel staff so they can send your rental car’s license plate to the lista bianca (white list) with the local authorities. That way, you won’t get a fine for the duration of your stay.
🚘 If you’re renting a car in Italy, I recommend Discover Cars. They help you find the best deals by comparing major rental companies and local ones.
How to Avoid ZTLs in Italy
There is no physical barrier preventing unauthorized vehicles from driving into a ZTL, only signs—which can be easy to miss unless you know what to look for. The entrances to ZTLs are monitored by cameras that photograph and read your license plate.
I found out about ZTLs the hard way driving in Milan. After getting several hundred dollars in fines sent through the rental car company, we started to pay attention. But even then, we ended up driving into ZTLs by mistake—it’s not like you can turn the car around in some of Italy’s narrow one-way streets.
6 Ways to Avoid Getting a ZTL Fine
So here are some ways you can avoid driving into a ZTL in Italy:
- Pay attention to signs: they will indicate the start of a ZTL and, in some cases, which days and hours when the ZTL is in effect. If there is no day and time on the sign, assume the ZTL is active 24/7. Some will have an electronic display flashing attiva in red for ZTL active or closed, or non attiva for ZTL inactive or open in green. If a ZTL is non attiva (open), you’re free to enter unless otherwise noted.
- Park outside the perimeter of the ZTL: ZTLs are usually in the busy center and historical areas of Italy’s cities and villages, so the best way to avoid them is to park your vehicle outside of the restricted zone and walk or take a taxi or public transport (bus, tram, metro) from there.
- Enter the ZTL while it’s inactive: As long as you find a legal place to park, you can remain in the ZTL for as long as you’d like—there are no cameras at the exits. Many cities have public parking garages, but street parking in ZTLs is tricky—most of the spots are reserved for residents, so be sure to check for signage with instructions, and if in doubt, ask someone. Just be careful when you exit the ZTL so you don’t end up inside another one!
- Don’t trust your GPS: Google Maps and Waze may or may show ZTLs, and they may or may not be accurate. There are also apps for your phone that claim to warn you about ZTLs but don’t rely on those either. Instead, go
- Stay at a hotel in the ZTL: As a guest of a hotel in the city center, you get to drive in and out of the ZTL as you please. Be sure to double (and triple-check) that the hotel staff has white-listed your rental car, and check the rules on your check-out date.
- Don’t be afraid to look foolish: If you notice a ZTL sign that you can’t read and you have room to pull over to go check it, do it. It beats paying an expensive fine!
How Much is a ZTL Ticket in Italy?
Non-authorized vehicles (and unsuspecting tourists) may get fined between €100-€350 for driving in a ZTL. The worst part is you won’t know until the rental car company sends you a bill later.
Accidentally Entering a ZTL
Most tourists will enter a ZTL by accident. Unfortunately, the Italian authorities won’t care, and you will get fined. If you do find yourself in a ZTL by mistake, find a parking garage and leave your car there for a couple of hours. Parking garages usually scan and submit your license plate to the lista bianca (or you can ask an attendant) so you won’t get a fine on your way out.
⭕️ Important: Some cities like Rome and Florence have multiple ZTLs. If you exit one and enter another, you can get fined again. In fact, you will potentially get fined each time you enter, no matter how many times you do it.
What do if you get a ZTL Fine
It takes a while for a ZTL fine to make its way to your hands, usually three months to a year. Your rental car company may also charge a fee on top of the fine. Yay…
The good news is you can pay and get it over with, or you can contest it. Payment can be done online, and it’s pretty straightforward. But you’ll need to contact the Polizia Municipale (Municipal Police) where you got the fine if you want to contest the fine.
Most tourists don’t contest it since it’s quite a hassle. Also, if you can’t prove that the vehicle was not yours or you were authorized to enter the ZTL, you’ll have to pay double the fine PLUS fees.
So best to stay out of the ZTLs!
Which cities have ZTL in Italy
Approximately 350 cities in Italy have ZTLs. Large and small cities and popular destinations like Rome, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Palermo, Torino, and Parma all have it.
ZTL Zones Italy Map
Here are maps of the ZTLs in Rome, Florence, and Milan to give you an idea of where ZTLs are.
Just keep in mind that these zones and laws may change before I get a chance to update them, so check the website of the local authorities to get the most recent and accurate map before you begin your trip to Italy.
Map of ZTL Zones in Rome
Map of ZTL Zones in Florence
Map of ZTL Zone in Milan
Final Thoughts on ZTLs
ZTLs exist for a good cause: to reduce traffic, decrease pollution, and preserve historic city centers. Which also creates very pedestrian-friendly areas for people to walk around and enjoy Italy.
If you are not careful, they can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of Euros, so it’s important to know and respect the rules. But don’t be discouraged from driving in Italy—it’s a beautiful country to explore by car!
🍷 Want more Italy? Click here to read my Italy travel guide next.
About Denise Cruz
Denise is a marketing executive who escaped corporate to travel the world… twice. A Brazilian native living in the U.S., she’s lived in 4 countries and visited 35+ others. After side-hustling her way to financial independence, she curates solo destination guides, slow travel tips, and travel blogging advice on Wander Her Way. When she’s not on the road, you can find her in Miami with her dog Finnegan.