During our 16-day Rome to Milan Multi-city Trip to Celebrate the High School Graduation of my second cousin we awoke to the sounds of the peacocks squawking in the Castel de Querceto vineyard outside of Greve in Chianti. Serving as our alarm clock, we arose and prepared for our day in Florence. After breakfast, the six of us piled into our van for the forty minute drive to meet our guide just outside of Florence in a hotel parking lot during our.
A portion of the trip required that we travel on the highly controlled Raccordo Autostrada Firenza-Siena. We had to enter the Autostrada via a booth in which we were given a toll ticket and exit at similar booths where we paid our toll for the portion of the roadway that we traveled. In addition, the road was strictly divided with barriers to prevent people from turning around.
We were a car load of people who had never driven in Italy and knew very little Italian. While we all scrambled to read the signs and figure out in what direction we needed to go we inadvertently took the wrong entrance ramp option and quickly realized that we were going to end up going away from Florence. Keep in mind that the clock was ticking – we had an appointment to meet our tour guide and we were running a little too close on time.
Rather than getting on the Autostrada and having to travel a good distance before being able to take an official exit, pay a toll, cross over the road, pass through another booth to take a ticket to head back to Florence, I decided it would be quicker to simply back up on the entrance ramp and backtrack through the toll booth.
Imagine the surprise on the toll booth agent’s face when I handed her a ticket for payment from the same location where she was working. She literally didn’t know how to process the ticket as we sat in front of a toll gate that was not going up unless we paid. After a few phone calls, in hushed, furtive Italian, the booth agent assumed an air of judicial authority and in rapid Italian scolded us for our u-turn. She then reached into a cabinet and pulled out an official form that she quickly completed. After handing me a citation for the u-turn, the toll arm arose and we were off to meet our guide.
As we greeted Francesca we excitedly explained what had occurred and showed her the form. Our guide became concerned and explained, in English, the consequences of the citation stating that we would have to appear in person, etc., to the proper authorities. After deliberating, we decided that I should accompany the guide to the police station to resolve the matter since we would be leaving the Florence area the next day.
A little over two hours later, after much explaining in rapid Italian with gesticulating arms, with me playing the dumb tourist, we got the citation paid and fully processed and resumed our tour of Florence.
For those of you who are planning to drive in and around Florence the following information may be helpful: Driving in Tuscany and hopefully prevent you from losing 2 and a half hours of touring time!
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.