Last October we incurred a parking fine in Macerata, a dignified city and former regional capital.
We left our car in a road just below the walls and bought a parking ticket from a machine.
I’m afraid it’s a bit worn after months in my archive. What would my former employers, Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, say?
You had to guess how long we’d stay and we underestimated it. Time passed and we realised that we’d overstayed. Then we made a big mistake. The Chelsea Fan didn’t want to go back, move the car and buy another ticket. He said they’d never check. He was wrong, and so was I for going along with him. First lesson: Never assume the Marchigiani, and probably the Italians, are casual and happy-go-lucky. They may often appear so, but at least in our part of Italy, when the parking warden is paid to issue parking fines, that’s what s/he does.
So when we got back to the car, this is what we found on our windscreen.
Deep gloom. We assumed we’d have to pay about 40 euros. We didn’t want just to let the car hire company pick up the fine; that would probably turn out very expensive. The parking office turned out to be closed and we thought we’d have to drive back to Macerata the next day to pay the fine.
Anyway, I rang the parking office on the number on the avviso and they were very helpful and explained I could pay at my local post office and told me exactly how to fill in the form. Lesson two: Don’t assume the worst when confronted with Italian bureaucracy.
Here are my notes of what they told me.
The fine turned out to be a teeny amount, as you can see above: the parking fee plus a few euros. Hardly worth the bureaucracy of collecting it. But if we had omitted to pay and left it to the car hire company, it would have been a lot more, 25 euros.
So we went along to the post office in Corinaldo.
I was feeling quite smug about my navigation of Italian bureaucracy, but somehow when we arrived at the window I just waved the fine document at the clerk and told her we wanted to pay it. Lesson three: Don’t assume you know it all, even if you’ve been coming back to the same place for over 20 years.
The clerk put on a “One born every minute, stupid foreigner” expression and kindly, if bossily, filled the form in for us. That’s her handwriting on the receipt.
So we’d learned four useful lessons: Don’t make assumptions about Italian attitudes; don’t make assumptions about Italian bureaucracy; don’t assume you know it all; and, fourth, how to pay a parking fine.