Yes this is a rant but I believe it is justified. Italy may be a beautiful place but under no circumstances should anyone ever consider going there and driving. Apart from the fact they drive like maniacs, the entire country seems to be out to rob you of your money.
Florence (Firenze) especially. It has been over a year since I was in Italy and today I got a letter from Budget car rental in Italy saying they have charged me €42 for the privilege of passing on my details to the police and included the original letter/fine which is all in Italian.
From what I can gather I drove down a street leaving my hotel while trying to get on to the motorway to Rome. This street was restricted to residents at certain times. I am sure there was a sign which would have been in Italian so completely useless to me. To top it off, I believe I still need to pay the original fine and since I have no idea what the fine says or how to pay it... I am at a loss.
The annoying thing is that I am not an isolated internet. Just do a quick google and you will see hundreds of thousands of tourists each year face this sort of crap. Italy does not seem to want tourists, or more to the point they love tourists as we are an easy source of revenue for little cities like Florence which makes about €52 million every year from traffic violations (driving down restricted time streets) and most of them have to be tourists because there are only a few hundred thousand people living in Florence.
So my advice is, don't go to Italy unless you absolutely have to and if you do, do not rent a car under any circumstances. Unless you are fluent in Italian and familiar with the layout of where you are driving, there is no way you can avoid a fine it seems.
For instance in Florence it seems, the entire city centre is restricted to residents. From doing a little (belated admittedly) research it seems you can get a special pass on the day you check in and check out of your hotel but the problem is that you have to give the hotel your car reg number and then there is no way to give it to them in advance because you do not know it until the day you collect the car.
Happy Weekend everyone.