My husband and exchanging some money here in the states before our trip to Italy. We will be renting a car there and wanted to know if anyone could help me with information on parking fees, tolls, etc. Do we need small denominations, coin, will there be meters and do most places make change?
In reference to toll roads: when you exit the toll road, you have several lanes you can go into to exit. Of course, there is a lane for exact change,a lane that has a teller that will give you change and I believe there is also a credit card lane option. In reference to parking lots or structures, you will get a ticket upon entering the lot. Take your ticket with you. Then upon returning to the lot/structure, you put your ticket in a machine or give it to an attendant at the entrance of the lot and pay for your parking up to that time. There have been a few times where there was no attendant and we had to have exact change, but it usually isn't the case. Then when exiting the lot/structure, you put your ticket in a machine. So, after you had paid for your parking, they allow you time to get to your car and exit.
In conclusion, I would not worry about having the money to pay for your tolls or parking. You cannot get coins when exchanging money here in the states. Just like you cannot turn your coins back in for dollars upon your return to the states. As previous forum discussions on this subject have stated, you could get some Euros in the states before your trip (50-100) just for peace of mind and to get you started. Then upon arrival in the airport in Europe, or at your destination, get the money you need from an ATM. ATMs are the most convenient and less costly way to exchange money and they are everywhere. Have fun making lifetime memories.
First time I did this was kinda stressfull because fool that I am I hadn't read this board. It's pretty clear on the toll roads which lane to get into to pay. Here's the drill. You roll up to a toll booth to get on the highway, take a ticket and that ticket tells the toll booth guy as you exit where you got on and how much to charge you. I say this because I'm thinking first time "Do I pay now, how much, panic etc." As I recall the far left or right lanes are frequently for "Pay Pass" type vehicles. There will be a menu register showing how many Euro's you owe (after you insert the card you received upon embarking on the toll road) or after you give it to the attendant. Have the non-driver ready with sorted change, i.e. small coins if you want to get close to the toll charge. Me, I hand them a bill large enough to cover the toll. Get my change and make my husband deal with 87 lbs of change when we get ready to leave. I've found driving in Italy very easy on the toll roads. Be sure to buy a good road atlas upon arrival (available at airports and petrol stations). On other posts I've said I use a yellow highlighter to outline our route the night before. As a rule you must pay for your parking prior to driving to the exit of the structure/lot. Feed your parking ticket into the machine by the pedestrian exit/entry, feed in appropriate number of Euros. Most parking structures/lots do not have attendants. Happy travels!
Slow travel has a great article on using the toll booths and filling your car with gas as well as the parking info. . Good pictures of the machine you will need to use. We paid all our tolls and gas bills with a Capital one credit card. We did however make sure we had Euros before we left the States just so we could buy coffee etc in airport.
Susan - Here is a link to a spot over a slowtrav that talks about parking in Italy.
We have found that there are usually two types of parking lots. Pay and display lots, where you pull in without any restrictions and then find a machine that allows you to purchase a ticket that tells the time you have to leave. the machine prints it out and you then display it in your front window.
The other method is similar to what we see a lot of here in the US. You pull into the entrance, there is a gate or barrier and a ticket is printed out with your arrival time and the gate goes up when you pull it out. Take that ticket with you, usually the spot you pay and the spot you exit are not in the same place. When you return, you'll present your card and then pay and exit.
You can also park on the street in many places. Usually if you see blue lines, there is a fee. Once again a pay and display. Look for a machine along the street to get the ticket.
If there is free parking, usually white lines, there may be a time limit. You need to look for signs explaining it. If there is a limit you will need to display a card that you set to your arrival time. It looks like a timer made out of cardboard. In theory, the rental car should come with one, but our rentals are about 50/50. You can purchase the card at Tobacco shops.