If you’re thinking of traveling to Italy, renting a Fiat Cinquecento, and driving along the Florentine streets like a cinema celebrity with your windows down and hair undone, you might have to think twice. Driving around Florence is quite tricky, as there are a few rules you need to know. Aside from the parking rules in Florence, you need to know about the ZTL in Florence.
The ZTL in Florence is the area of the city in which it’s forbidden to drive without a permit. This is a real rule in many Italian cities. Its purpose is to make the towns more eco-friendly, encourage citizens to use public transportation, and reduce traffic.
What is ZTL?
The ZTL (‘zona a traffico limitato’) is a limited traffic area in Florence. It’s marked by small red and green traffic lights and a white road sign with a red circle and a timetable on it indicating when you can and cannot enter (i.e. 7.30-19.30). There is usually a CCTV camera next to the signs which captures all license plate driving in the city centre.
It’s usually easy to tell whether you can enter the centre or not. If the traffic light is red, then you can’t. If it’s green, then you can. However, if you want to have information in advance, you can check out the municipality website or keeping reading.
When is it active and where?
The ZTL area is divided into 5 areas (A, B, O, F, G).
In the areas A, B, and O, the ZTL restrictions are active throughout the year, from Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 8:00pm, and from 7.30am to 4pm on Saturday. You can enter the city center freely on Sunday.
In summer (from the first Thursday of April to the first Sunday of October), the restriction is extended to the nighttime from 11pm on Thursday to 3am on Friday, from 8pm on Friday to 3am on Saturday, and from 4 pm on Saturday to 3 am on Sunday. This means that from 8pm to 11pm on Thursday, you are free to enter the center. In regards to areas F and G in the summer, the restriction is extended from 11 pm on Thursday to 3 am on Friday, from 11pm on Friday to 3am on Saturday and from 11pm on Saturday to 3 am on Sunday.
In case you find yourself in front of one of ZTL entry spots and realize you can’t drive into the centre, don’t worry. You’ll always be able to make a turn and go back to the surrounding areas. Try and make sure that you don’t enter a ZTL are unless you have a permit, as you will get a costly fine.
If you’re driving using car rental, you might find out about your fine months after you’re back home, so try and be very careful.
How can I get a permit?
You can get a temporary permit at a Polizia Municipale office by paying a daily fee, though the easiest option might be parking outside the center. Other options can be walking or taking public transportation, as permits are usually only granted for specific reasons.
Find out more about how to get around Florence here.
- If you’re driving into town on Sunday or at another time when the ZTL is not active, you might want to keep in mind that finding a parking spot in Florence is not easy, and it’s even harder in the city center, though it’s worth trying.
- The ZTL area is not the only zone you cannot access; indeed, you cannot drive along bus lanes, which are marked by yellow stripes with the writing ‘bus’ in capital letters on it. Again, there will be cameras checking only authorized vehicles are driving along these lanes, though controls are not as strict as in ZTL entry spots.