Driving in Italy: 5 Easy Ways to Get Italian ZTL Fines and How to Avoid One

This is an excerpt from our Driving in Italy ebook, which you can download for free by entering your email address Click Here.

Anyone who is planning to drive in Italy needs to be aware of Limited Traffic Zones, or Zona Traffico Limitato in Italian, abbreviated to ZTL. Many historical centers of Italian cities have set up these limited traffic zones in order to reduce congestion and pollution, and there are significant fines for driving into one of these zones unauthorized.


ZTL Palermo wikimedia

Italian ZTL fines: What are they?

Italian ZTL fines are tickets that are automatically generated and sent to drivers who cross into the designated Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) in a city, and who are unauthorized to do so. Not every city has a ZTL area, but Italian ZTL fines are no scam. In 2008 in Florence – a city of 365,000 residents – almost 900,000 tickets were issued for traffic violations. Of those, more than half were given for driving unauthorized in an area of restricted access.

The boundaries of the ZTL are clearly marked, except that you need to know what you’re looking for. The sign above is an example of a ZTL boundary sign.


How to interpret a ZTL Sign

The red circle means no cars allowed. The numbers underneath are the times of day, using the 24-hour clock. So the sign above means no entry between 8 am and 8 pm. The fine print says that cars with a pass can enter.


Five Reasons It’s Easy to Get a ZTL Fine

1 – You’ll see other cars crossing the ZTL boundary and may assume you can proceed. Not so. You may see plenty of Italian drivers crossing into the ZTL zone, but they’re locals and they have passes. You do not, and you’ll get a fine.

2 – All cities do not have the same rules, so learning the rules for Pisa may not be useful for Florence or Milan. In some cities, non-residents cannot enter the ZTL, period. In other cities, any car can enter, but only with a pass. In Milan, access to the ZTL, and what kind of pass is needed depends on how environmentally friendly the car is. The details are written on the signs, so you just need to recognize and read them. But that’s not easy when you’re in a moving vehicle, and because these zones are in city centers, there are usually many other distractions such as pedestrians, bikes, vespas, narrow streets, lots of parked cars, etc.

3 – Zones are monitored by cameras, so tickets are issued immediately and automatically, as soon as (and each time) the car crosses the ZTL boundary. There is no chance to explain to an actual person, “but officer, I didn’t understand….”. The ticket is sent to the address registered with the car, or for a car rental company, the ticket will be forwarded to the home address associated with the credit card (with an additional forwarding fine and a fine from the car rental company – more details below).

4 – GPS systems do not know about ZTL zones, and will just suggest the shortest route, which may indeed include driving straight into a ZTL.

5 – Once you’ve started approaching the ZTL area, it can be impossible to turn around. By the time you see the sign, you may not be able to avoid getting a fine. Due to traffic, narrow or one-way streets (which are probably the reasons the zone is designated ZTL), it may be necessary to enter the Zona Traffico Limitato in order to leave it.

Traffico milano Uberto flickr

What does a ZTL ticket Cost?

Fines are different depending on the city, but expect the traffic violation itself to be between about 50 and 80 Euros. If the car is rented, the rental car company will usually add an additional fine. So it’s entirely possible that up to one year after returning from your Italian vacation, you receive a fine in the mail for 130 Euros. Read about all the gritty details of people who’ve been-there-done-that in this thread on TripAdvisor.


How To Avoid Getting A ZTL Fine: 4 suggestions

As with any traffic fine, avoiding a ZTL is mostly common sense.

  • So, there’s the obvious: don’t drive in the historical center of Italian cities. Take the train. Or park your car and use the bus, the subway, the tram, or a taxi when going into the center. And, reading this post already helps, since you should be able to recognize the sign and understand the 24-hour clock (where 18 is actually 6 pm, etc).
  • Just being aware of the existence of these zones will help you avoid them.
  • If you are planning on driving in the historic center of a city, make sure you have a map of the ZTL area (links to maps of Pisa, Rome and Florence ZTL zones below) so that you don’t accidentally get caught in #5 above.
  • If you are renting a car, it doesn’t hurt to ask the car rental place whether there are ZTL areas in the city, and whether you should buy a pass. Car rental offices within a ZTL zone will give you a temporary pass. But regardless of what they tell you, you are still the one responsible for any fines. I usually pick a car rental office on the outskirts of the city and take a taxi to get there – partly for ZTL and partly because I never recommend driving in Italian city centers, for the stress and the bumper to bumper traffic.


ZTL is not a scam

Let me emphasize this: Limited Traffic Zones are not a tourist scam. People seem to think this is a scam but it isn’t. Nor is it aimed only at tourists – plenty of Italians receive these fines. Getting a fine in this zone is the same as getting any other traffic fine. The zones were created to reduce traffic and pollution in very busy Italian city centers.


Pisa ZTL information

Map of Pisa ZTL zones; how to pay a ZTL ticket from Pisa.

Rome ZTL information

This site is great for lots of cities, not just Rome, but it’s in Italian only. Under the map on the bottom right, you need to click on whether you want to see the “diurna” or daytime ZTL map vs the “notturna” or evening ZTL map. The other thing I like about this site is that if you are driving to a city and want to park close to, but not in, the ZTL zone, on the left, you can click “parcheggiare” to show the parking lots. Zoom in to find the best parking, note the GPS coordinates, plug them into your GPS device, and go straight to the parking without worrying about getting stuck inside the ZTL zone.

Florence ZTL information

Map of Florence ZTL zones; Lots of information on ZTL in Florence.

Addendum regarding Florence ZTL, November 18th, 2016: I was contacted by a reader who received a ticket in Florence for driving in the ZTL. He had rented his car from Locauto, which he asserted, is inside the Florence ZTL zone and therefore should have given him a ZTL pass.

When I looked up Locauto’s address on the ZTL map, indeed their office seems to be clearly inside the ZTL boundary. However, on their website, Locauto says they are very close to, but not in, the Florence ZTL. This was very confusing. So we called them.

Locauto insisted that they are not inside the ZTL boundary. They also said they would actually prefer to be inside the ZTL, because then the police would have to give them ZTL passes for their customers.

So we called the Florence police to ask for an official ZTL map in order to properly understand exactly where the Florence ZTL boundaries are.  The police could not direct us to an official ZTL map of Florence (?!) but they maintained that the Locauto office is indeed inside the ZTL. Further, they said, if you go to google street view, you can clearly see the ZTL signs on the street next to the Locauto office.

The saga continues, but this example illustrates that you should avoid driving anywhere near a ZTL boundary.  If you dance on the boundaries, even unknowingly as our reader did, you may get embroiled in Italian bureaucracy, or just get an undeserved ticket.

Milan ZTL information

General info about Milan’s Ecopass.

And Finally…

Here’s another great article with interactivec maps about ZTL zones in Italy.

For more on Driving in Italy, download our free Driving in Italy ebook by entering your email address here.

Italy Beyond the Obvious will help make your trip truly memorable. Take advantage of our Italy trip planning services for a customized itinerary, or get coaching assistance with our Italy travel consulting services. And if you like what you read, why not subscribe to the Italy Beyond the Obvious blog and get free updates?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Facebook Twitter Email Google
Posted by on Jun 24, 2009 in Driving | 10 Comments


  1. Road Signs in Italy - Italy Beyond The Obvious
    October 14, 2014

    […] The first sign just means no entry with a car. Often there are times of day posted underneath, which means no entry just during those times. Many Italian cities have Limited Traffic Zones, or Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) which are areas in the historic centers in which you cannot drive, and if you do, you’ll be mailed a ticket, via your car rental agency of course. Learn more about Italian Limited Traffic Zones here.  […]

  2. Bologna, Food Capital of Italy | by Jet East
    March 11, 2015

    […] them unless you want a nasty expensive ticket. They aren’t particularly well marked, so check out this helpful blog post on how to spot and interpret the […]

  3. Driving in Italy? 10 Italy driving tips - Italy Beyond The Obvious
    September 21, 2015

    […] a photo of your license plate and send you a ticket in the mail (via the car rental company). More information on limited traffic zones here.  Also note that your GPS will not know where the ZTL zones are.   5) Study up on your road signs […]

  4. Top Tips for Car Rentals and Driving In Italy - rentcar360.com
    December 14, 2015

    […] in mind especially about the matters linked with economics such as driving in ZTL (read “don’t mess with ZTL zones in Italy“). Learning the road signs, unwritten rules and official regulations will help to avoid the […]

  5. How Well do you know Road Rules Across Europe?
    August 10, 2016

    […] Zona Traffico Limitato is Italian for Limited Traffic Zones and is sometimes abbreviated to ZTL. You will often see them […]

  6. Italy Day 5: Tuscany, a lovely B&B, and Siena » The Z-Issue
    October 27, 2016

    […] and getting unpacked, we drove ~20km (~30 minutes) to Siena. Siena is a city where there are many ZTLs (Zona Traffico Limitato), which are places where you may not drive or park. As such, it really makes sense to just park your […]

  7. Planning an European Road Trip? Beware of the Dreaded Photo Radar Trap - Travel Codex
    November 13, 2016

    […] restricted traffic zones usually found in the city centers of historic cities.  This website provides a good overview of ZTLs and links to maps of some of the zones.  The important things to remember: the specific […]

  8. We’re Not in Kansas Anymore — An American Renting in Europe for the First Time | Journey Pass Reviews
    March 5, 2017

    […] forbid car traffic. Italy is at the forefront in restricting cars in city centers through Limited Traffic Zones (Zona Traffico Limitato). Inadvertently cross into one of those zones and a camera will […]

  9. Planning an European Road Trip? Beware of the Dreaded Photo Radar Trap - Travel Codex
    December 17, 2018

    […] are restricted traffic zones usually found in the city centers of historic cities.  This website provides a good overview of ZTLs and links to maps of some of the zones.  The important things to remember: the specific boundaries […]

  10. Tandem Travel Tales: Bologna - Traveling in Tandem
    April 8, 2019

    […] right. So if you are anything like me, you have absolutely no idea what a ZTL is. Given that we hadn’t planned to rent a car in Italy, I did little to no research on the matter. […]

Privacy Preference Center