Where to park legally in Italy (white stripes: free; blue stripes: paid; yellow stripes: off-limits), how to use a disco orario parking disk, and how to avoid fines and getting towed
You have several parking options in Italy:
- Public garages and lots (usually at the edge of the city center/ZTL, and by far the best bargain if your hotel doesn't offer free parking)
- Private garages and lots (all over the place; priciest in the city center or right near a major sight)
- Your hotel (highly variable; some offer free parking on site or nearby, others paid parking—usually through a deal with at a nearby private garage or lot, which can sometimes be a bargain, sometimes pricey)
- On-street parking, which is defined by lines painted on the road:
What the colored parking lines mean on Italian roads—and how to use the disco orario parking disc
- Yellow lines = You can't park here. It is reserved for residents, deliveries, or the disabled.
- Blue lines = Metered parking. Go find the machine (usually in the middle of the block; sometimes at one end) and figure out how to pay for the length of time you intend to stay (this may be limited to 1–3 hours). Be sure to place this receipt in a visible location on the dashboard of the car.
- Whites lines = Free parking... but this can be complicated. If a sign says "Solo Autorizzati" or "Solo Residenti," you're out of luck; it's limited to authorized vehicles residents. Even if not, parking here may be time-limited. Check up and down the block for a blue P sign. If it shows a little disco orario symbol (a blue box with a white P above a down arrow/triangle pointing to what looks like a ruler curved into a smile) that means you have to use the cardboard or plastic disco orario ("hourly disc") parking card that should be in the glove box of your rental car. (If not, you can buy one at most gas stations, larger post offices, and some tabbachi.) You just dial it to show the time you arrived then place it on your dashboard. Now, to figure out how long you are allowed to stay, look at that parking sign for either a number followed by an apostrophe (like 60'), or a number followed by the word "ora" or "ore" (like 1 ora) or "min" (like 120 min). That number is how many ore (hours) or minuti (minutes—which is also what the apostrophe stands for) until you have to leave. If there are time ranges on there (09,00-13,00 / 17,00-20,00) that means this parking time limit only applies during those hours (in that case 9am–1pm and again 5–8pm). If there are two crossed hammers, this means the time limit only applies workdays (Mon-Sat in Italy). The implication is that, outside of those days and hours, you park here for free for as long as you'd like (say, on Sundays, or Mon–Sat between 1 and 5pm, before 9am, and after 8pm).
Italy has gotten much stricter about issuing parking tickets and even towing cars.
Don't risk this. Park legally.