Last September, we were fortunate enough to visit the beautiful walled city of Lucca. I had never been there, and since we were travelling in the vicinity, we decided to make a day of it. Entering through the thick walls surrounding the city, we couldn’t believe our luck when we found a great parking space in a small piazza near the center of town. We quickly glanced at the signage and pretty much figured out that we were safe in parking there. Happy with our location, we started off on foot to explore the tiny meandering roads and the gorgeous churches and piazzas of this medieval city. We hiked up the multitude of steps to the top of the Guinigi Torre for a fabulous view. We admired the wonderful marble facade of the Duomo. We stopped for a quick lunch at a local trattoria, and sipped on some of the local wine. We just took our time and strolled through the tiny alleys that serpentine their way through the town, ending up at the gorgeous Anfiteatro Piazza. Content with the time we spent in Lucca, and because it was getting dark and we needed to still make our way up the coast to the Cinque Terre, we headed back to the car to begin our journey north. Lo and behold, we found a little blue note on our windshield. It wasn’t a nice “welcome to our town” note…instead it was a “Preavviso” or a parking ticket!!! What did we do wrong? Looking it over, it seemed like we had parked in an authorized only parking lot! And…they were charging us 124 Euros for this violation!!! Yikes!!! Hmm….I hadn’t noticed any signs stating that only authorized vehicles were allowed. But, then again, it’s hard to figure out the parking restrictions in Italy and I could have surely misunderstood the signs. OK, now what? There was an envelope with the ticket, but unfortunately, since we do not have a “conto corrente” or checking account in Italy, our checks, written in US dollars, wouldn’t be very useful. And since it was late, the payment offices were closed, and there was no indication of allowing us to pay this fine by credit card. What to do? Well, we decided to leave and that they would eventually find us through the rental car agency and then we could settle the fine.
Months went by without hearing from them. And then one day, we get a letter from the rental car agency saying that they were advised by the City of Lucca that we had a parking ticket. They tacked on 30 Euros for their inconvenience in having to contact us to take care of this ticket. And….they said that they had forwarded our information to the authorities in Lucca and that we would hear from them. At this point, I thought I would try to call Lucca to see if we could figure out how to pay this fine. When I contacted them, they informed me that the office I needed to speak to was only open from 9 am to 1 pm…Lucca time! That is the middle of the night for me. This was really becoming difficult, so again I just decided to let them contact me. Several months went by again, and then I GOT IT! My official statement….with a credit card payment option! Why didn’t they have this option on the original ticket itself? This could have been taken care of months ago. AND…are you ready for this? They tacked on a LATE charge (of course), so now our amount due is up to 154 Euros! Our little afternoon in Lucca was quite expensive – to say the least!