Tourists visiting Rome by car can expect several difficulties, the first one of which is the Roman disregard for traffic rules. Red lights are often ignored, pedestrian crossings are invisible to car drivers, precedence is not given but taken and changes in direction are not indicated. And this is not even the hardest part, which comes when you need to find a parking spot.
Driving in Rome
The first recommendation is to not even consider using your car to visit the center of Rome.
Limited Traffic Areas
The first reason is that you might simply not be allowed to, since certain parts of the center are only open to taxi’s, cars belonging to residents or people with special permissions. The entrances to these “Limited Traffic Areas” (Zone a Traffico Limitato, ZTL for short) are either “active” (Varco Attivo) or “not active” (Varco Non Attivo). When they are “active” you are not allowed to enter the area. If you do so anyway you will be flashed and you will get a fine. (In case you have a rental car the fine will be sent to the agency, who will then charge you.)
There are different hours for different ZTL-zones. On the Roma Mobilità website you can get information about these hours.
Parking in Rome
With the exception of a short period during (especially the second half of) August, when the heat forces the Romans to leave the city for the beach or the countryside, it will be impossible to find a parking spot in the center.
If you don’t want to pay the sometimes rather steep rates charged by the various garages in Rome you will have to find a spot in the street, which might mean driving around for hours.
Parking spots in Rome are either white, blue or yellow. If you are really lucky you will find a white lined parking spot, which is free. For the blue ones you have to pay and the yellow ones are forbidden. How much you pay for the blue ones depends on the area and on how long you plan to park your car there. After you have fed the right amount into the parking meter you will get a ticket, which you are to display on the dashboard of your car.