Carried away

Being towed is not much of a deterrent

I had a "business" meeting in the city, so I parked where I always do, not quite in the middle of the road because it is a big old square with loads of dead space around the corners. Not at the kerb though either. But definitely not in anybody's way. None of us -- there were half a dozen cars in the same general area -- was in anybody's way.

The meeting turned into a beer, and when I went to go there was the little matter of transferring some stuff from my hosts' car to mine.

"Where are you parked?"

"Oh, just down there in the square."

"Oh yeah? Let's see how far it is from our car."

So out we troop onto the balcony to see that not one of the half dozen cars remains where it was. Not stolen, towed.

This was a first for me in Rome, though I've smugly watched it happen to others. At first I panicked slightly, dimly remembering one appalling time in London when recovering my car proved to be a wretched experience. My hosts, however, were unfazed; expressed incredulity that after more than three years here this was the first time I had been towed; drove me to the pound, whose location was well-known to all.

There, a pleasant enough woman behind a grille told me where my car was, asked to see my ownership document and identity card, swiped my debit card for the fee and gave me a little bit of paper to show to the man on the way out. The whole thing was over in -- what? -- five minutes at best. We transferred the stuff from one car to the other and off I went.

I was lighter to the tune of just under Euros 80, and there is still the matter of the police fine, Euros 33 if I pay within a fortnight. Still, the whole procedure was so efficient and simple that it is barely any deterrent at all to what passes here for orderly parking. And I reckon Euros 110 is not that expensive spread over three years for the convenience of more or less abandoning my car wherever I like.

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