Here’s a little story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
My friend T went to do a little shopping in the centre of Milan on Saturday afternoon. She drives a Smart car, which in theory should be easy to park, but Milan being Milan, you can take nothing for granted, so after just a few ‘giri’ she was pleasantly surprised to find a space. Being careful to check that there were no “No parking” signs, she parked up and went on her way. Two hours later she came back to find her car blocked in by a police car. Upon closer inspection she noticed, in fact that the whole street was lined with police cars, parked side-by-side for as far as the eye could see. Close by was a man standing outside a shop, pacing up and down, smoking a cigarette, evidently waiting for his wife or girlfriend to make her purchases so that they could leave. Seeing my friend’s confusion, he pointed out that the whole area is designated police parking, and the they were in fact standing right outside the police station. His advice to my friend was to go inside and ask if someone would move the car, although obviously they would give her a ticket – not only for parking illegally but for depriving them of their own precious space. Normal, no? So, off goes my friend, more than a little embarrassed, into the police station to confess to her crime. The officer on the front desk confirms that, yes, this area is police parking, yes there’s a sign at the start of the street, and you should know from the fact that the lines around the spaces are yellow and not blue or white. Clear? OK, Now what? A ticket? A fine? License points? What do you think, dear reader?
Firstly the policeman was very interested to know where my friend was from. Canada? Ah what a beautiful country… I’d love to visit…. What are you doing here in Italy..? Do you have a boyfriend….? Blah blah blah. As my friend started to realize that the police officer didn’t seem too interested in doling out the relevant punishment, she decided to tackle the issue of freeing her car. Sadly it turned out that the colleague to whom the car belonged was extremely busy, and may not be free for hours, and with no one else available and the front desk officer unable to leave his post, he simply threw the keys over the desk and suggested my friend move the police car herself. Eh? Cosa? Yeah, just go round the block a couple of times – you’re bound to find a spot. …
So, off goes T, police car keys in hand, much to the shock and amusement of the smoking man outside the shop. A giro around the block and she’s back. Throws the keys over the desk back to the police officer, whose last words are “Don’t forget you can’t park here, bella!” Wink wink.
Only in Italy.