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An insider's view of Tuscany

Raymond Lamothe Facebook



What to watch out for on the Italian Autostrade when in doubt.

Message received from Mr Franz Hammert:

Last week we had the experience of driving on the Autostrada with a rental car and entering the cash payment toll booth which was unfortunately unmanned and we do not speak Italian. We drove from Occieobello to Roma but were charged the maximum of E55, since the automatic toll machine did not read the ticket correctly. After being imprisoned in the payment lane with 100 degree temperatures, the screen told us to pay E55 and our protesting in english into a microphone, holding up angry drivers blowing horns, a "Telepass" receipt flew out and said we have to mail in E55. We are in the US now and I have emailed autostrada, requesting a correct amount but still have not heard from them. People should avoid these unamanned booths like the plague, if possible, but it is sometimes hard to see if they are manned.

Ray’s answer:

Unfortunately, it happens to a lot of people because there are no explanations given when you go to get onto the autostrada. Most of them are now unmanned, so you have to pick up the slip, the bar raises up and allows you to enter the autostrada, and then my suggestion to people is not to pay at the credit card or Viacard machines, but to pay the tollbooth man if he is present (usually entails a longer line but it is worth it because you can resolve a problem immediately with him if it arises, while the machine only spits out a note telling you to pay).

Do you still have the original ticket issued by the machine (I mean the first one when you got onto the Autostrada, not the one that the Telepass machine tossed out to you)? I have a feeling that you may have gone through the wrong lane. There are usually three types of exit lanes. One is manned and you pay cash. The second has a sign above it with VIACARD (and usually some credit card symbols also) and here you put your ticket into the machine, it reads it and then the amount appears on a screen and you insert your prepaid Viacard or your credit card and it debits it automatically. The third lane instead is the Telepass lane - this is only for customary Autostrada drivers who have a small box mounted in their cars or trucks and you enter the Autostrada through the Telepass entrance without having to stop to get a ticket, and you exit it again through the Telepass lane without stopping. It is the machine in your car that reads where you entered and then gives this information to the machine at the exit. Then you are simply billed monthly.

If what you did was to get an entrance ticket, but you exited through the Telepass fastlane the reason you were issued a payment slip for 55 euros is that they assumed you got onto the Autostrada through the Telepass and exited through the Telepass and they are charging you the maximum distance that you can drive on that specific stretch of Autostrada. Same thing happens if you lose your ticket. They can't determine where you got onto the Autostrada so they charge you for the full distances. Crappy system. If you still have your entrance ticket, then that is what you want to scan and then email to the Autostrada people. It shows where you got onto the highway.

I hope this helps.


Message received from Ms LucyAnn Curling:

I thought it might be helpful to put a message up somewhere about my experience on the autostrade last October (2012). I don’t have a blog of my own and wondered if you might like to post the following.

On the way from Pisa Airport to stay with friends near Lucca in October 2012 I managed to incur not one but two non-payment of toll maximum fines! I just didn’t understand how the system worked and that was compounded by getting lost and going back onto the autostrada by mistake at Lucca. I was only in Italy for 3 days and when I took the hire car back the company said I had to pay the fines, so I did it on the internet at the airport.

However, the friends I’d been staying with in Italy were talking to a neighbour who works as an administrator at the SpA and she told them I shouldn’t have had to pay because tourists don’t. She recommended I made scanned copies of all my paper work and sent them electronically to info@autostrade.it. The paperwork I sent consisted of the following:

· Car hire contract, showing where I hired from and the from/to dates

· The two fine tickets

· The two payment receipts

I thought I’d send a copy of the airline e-ticket booking too, showing my arrival and departure but looking back at my sent items I didn’t include that. I sent the original e-mail request (in my very basic Italian with an English translation) in December 2012, in January 2013 received an enquiry from the autostrade people asking for my address so I sent them both my permanent address in the UK and where I had been staying and I finally received a cheque for the full amount I’d paid, 8th March 2013! I hadn’t expected the appeal to be successful. So it was a wonderful surprise and it shows that it pays to be meticulous and keep all your paperwork!

All the best.



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