17 Sep 2011

A (hopefully) useful post about where to park in Pisa and Siena, and some info on how to avoid being fined in the ZTLs. And no… they are not a scam for tourists. You just need to do your homework before getting behind the wheel and pay some attention to road signs.

Parking in Pisa and Siena

Here comes another post “prompted by laziness”, just like the post on how to get from Pisa to Florence and viceversa. Another question thatย  I often read in forums and am asked by our guests is “where can we park in Pisa/Siena”? So I thought it might be a good topic for another (hopefully) useful post. And remember, if you don’t have a car like the one above, you should probably be careful where you park! ๐Ÿ™‚

Where to park in Pisa

The first thing to remember is that most parking spots in Pisa are pay and display parking spots. Pay parking is marked by blue lines; white lines are for free parking spaces and yellow lines are for reserved parking spaces (incuding parking spaces for the disabled).

parking spaces

Parking is generally unsupervised, even in the private parking lots.

If you park in one of the pay parking spots along the road, you need to go to the nearest parking meter and pre-pay for the parking, estimating the amount of time you will need to leave your car there. Most of the automatic machines only work with coins, so remember to keep some change in the car. They are usually located under white and blue and white and black signs with the symbol of a parking meter and the cost per hour of stay which varies from 60 cents to 2.50 euros per hour, depending on the zone. There is a minimum amount you must pay (usually 60 cents or 30 mins – whichever is higher) depending on the zone. Of course, the closer you are to the tourist areas, the more expensive parking will be. You need to insert coins and you will see on a small display the amount of time you are allowed to stay. When you are done, you need to push the green button and the machine will print a ticket that you need to leave clearly on display inside your car on the dash.

parking in pisa

Another option is to go to one of the enclosed parking lots: the two largest ones are on Via Cameo (Parcheggio di Piazza dei Miracoli), just a few steps away from the Leaning Tower, and just around the corner from that, by the Pam Supermarket (turn left at the roundabout at the end of Via Cameo). There you need to obtain a ticket when you go in, but you only pay when you are ready to leave the parking lot. There are actual parking attendants. A tip: the entrance to the Parcheggio di Piazza dei Miracoli can be tricky because there are two identical entrances, but one is for the university cafeteria. I see tourists stuck there trying to reverse all the time. The entrance to the parking lot is the one on the left.

parking by the leaning tower

If you plan on spending the day and want to save on parking, there is a private parking lot behind the Agip Gas Station in Via Bonanno, opposite the former Emergency Room. They apply a daily fee which is much lower than hourly parking rates. Also, in the same area, the parking spaces in Via Padre Bruno Fedi and in the Via Lucchese area are free after 2pm.

The cheapest option of course is free parking, which is available in the two park and ride parking lots called Parcheggio Via Pietrasantina (ideal if you come from the Autostrada and exit at Pisa Nord – there is a Tamoil gas station at the entrance of the parking lot that you can use as a reference point), and Parcheggio del Brennero (ideal if you arrive via Lucca).ย  The former is only a 10 minute walk to the Leaning Tower, and the city bus line LAM Rossa stops there every 10 to 15 minutes so it’s very convenient. The latter is a bit farther away, but it is served by the city bus Navetta E, which will take you right downtown to Piazza Santa Caterina or Via Santa Maria. Something to remember: Parcheggio del Brennero is where the city market is held, so it is taken up by the market stalls on Wednesday and Saturday morning.

Here is a Google map with some of the most accessible parking areas in Pisa.

A word of caution: if you are in an area with white parking spots (except in the two large parking lots that I have just mentioned), you are probably where you should not be… they are usually only for residents and therefore in areas restricted to non-residential traffic.

ZTL – Zone a Traffico Limitato… or Limited Traffic Zones

This is another very common topic in forums, especially those which deal with Pisa and Florence.

ZTLs are a way to reduce the pressure of non residential traffic in highly touristic destinations. They are also a way to guarantee that some areas stay exclusively pedestrian, and that traffic does not damage the oldest parts of the cities more than is strictly necessary.

Some people believe they are a scam for tourists, but believe me: they’re not. They support their thesis with the argument that the city council even has English and German speaking clerks helping people pay ZTL fines. This is such a stupid argument… it’s a service that is meant to help people who were distracted or didn’t do their homework and entered one of these areas.

Italians get fined too. But not, as some believe, because ZTLs are so difficult to identify that not even Italians can see them, but because when you navigate an unknown city, you get distracted, whatever your nationality. Any car, Italian or foreign, that enters a ZTL without a valid permit for that ZTL will be fined. And it is expensive. So the first thing to do is to learn to identify the ZTLs. They are all clearly marked with (very confusing) signs and most of them will also have cameras on big poles and well marked entry lanes…

What I always recommend is that you learn about Italian road signs before getting behind the wheel on an Italian road.

ztl pisa

In the photo above, I have added the standard sign you find before entering a ZTL, the ZTL entrance to the Santa Maria Quarter, and a third sign that might be confusing. The rightmost sign is found at the entrance of the Lungarno for those who come from the airport. They will also see cameras. The ZTL on the Lungarno is only active in the summer after 9pm when the locales on the river are open and thriving. There are usually traffic policemen too, so as to reduce the number of confused drivers, and the sign says “varco attivo” (active cameras). When the sign is like this “varco non attivo” (inactive cameras), it means you can drive there.

In Pisa, you will be fine if you drive along the Lungarni (the roads that run along the river banks) without taking ANY side roads. Stay on the Lungarni, or outside the city walls. I am not sure where people get fined the most in Pisa, but I am ready to bet it is in Via Mazzini, which is a relatively big road off the Lungarno where buses are allowed to drive, but not cars. Stay on the Lungarno and outside the city walls and you will be fine.

Here is the ZTL entrance to Via Mazzini:

It can be a bit confusing, because you only see it once you have already turned into Via Mazzini, and backing up into the Lungarno is not an option.

However, if you pay attention to the signs on the Lungarno, you will see that you will have passed signs indicating that you must go straight.

Here is a map of the ZTL access points in the city and here you can read more on ZTLs in Italy and Pisa.

Where to park in Siena

The same general rules apply in Siena. There are several main areas where you can park at the street level: near the city gate Porta Camollia, near the city gate Porta Romana, near the city gate Porta Laterina, by the Soccer Stadium and the Fortress, and by Fontebranda.

We always recommend parking at the Soccer Stadium-Fortress area, but keep in mind that on Wednesdays it is taken up by the weekly market.

There are several other underground parking lots such as Parcheggio Il Campo and Parcheggio il Duomo, and also the parking lot at the train station.




  1. cynthia

    oh this post would have been so helpful last week! We ended up going to Siena on a Wed…now I know why that wasn’t the best choice ( Unless I want to go to the market..Parking at the stadio was a bear!)
    For our Torre di Pisa trip, one additional parking comment – We did paid street parking close by the tower and there were “helpful” men there to tell us where to buy our parking ticket to display…then they proceeded to tell us for 1 euro we should pay them to “watch” our car. I was concerned about that and asked a more official looking “meter maid” about the men. She said not to pay them, obviously, but more important not to worry about the car. All was fine. Parking by Keith Cafe was easy and was also paid street ticket.
    Thanks again for providing such helpful and detailed information.

    • Did you go to the market at least? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • cynthia

        I didn’t know about it! I would have for sure. I was on the quest for the perfect tablecloth.

        • Too bad! It’s a great market!

    • Curious about these people offering o watch your car… I have never seen them. Are they street vendors?

      • cynthia

        They were not street vendors, per se. How do I put this delicately…they could have definitely been related to the street vendors. This guys had no merchandise, but wore messenger type bags on their shoulders. They acted like “parking attendants”, but I could smell the scam a mile away.

        I’ll have my husband look at the map. I know he can tell u the exact street.

        • Never seen any of those. Must be a new thing!

  2. Thank you for this post…it is one I will add to my favorites and refer to again before we take our trip to Italy.

    I have your blog as a link on my “Italy-from Vision to Reality” blog. Your insights are wonderful and I love that you shared about your pregnancy (congratulations!!).

    I also appreciate learning about the “Roundtable” blogs…they are excellent for someone like me who is immersing myself in everything I can read and learn about Italy, it’s culture, people, and history before I travel there.


    • Thank you very much Kathryn!

  3. Michelle

    This has been very helpful , thank for taking the time to help travellers get an understanding of the traffic signs ….. The photos are VERY helpfull for us who do not speak Italian.

    THanks so much .


  4. laila

    really really appreciate all the time taken for this

    feel like i can drive soemwhat

  5. Gil

    Is the Pisa ZTL 24/7?

    Where would be best place to park for Teatro Verdi?

    • Hi Gil, Yes it is. The closest parking spots are around Via San Francesco and Piazza Santa Caterina.

  6. Nicolo Canzoneri

    I am going to Tuscany in May and will be driving to Pisa and Siena for day trips. Where do you suggest I park in these two cities were we can get a public bus to take us into the Tower/Duomo area in Pisa and to Il Campo in Siena?

    • It should be all in the post! Have fun!

  7. Hi Gloria this post is so helpful. Forgive me if I overlooked the answer here but I wonder if I can get in and park in Parcheggio di Piazza dei Miracoli coming from SS1 (I arrive from Lucca) without entering a ZTL zone. Is it possible? I see on Google street view the ZTL mark entering SS12 so I presume I cant?

    • You can get there very easily without entering the ZTL. Just drive along the city walls (outside the city walls – essentially do not pass under any arch!) and you will get to a roundabout. There turn right and you will find the parking lot on your right, after a yellow building.

  8. Hi Gloria! This is the best, most helpful information I’ve come across on this subject!! Thank you for taking the time to do this for us! I just want to clarify that if we are coming from La Spezia on the SS1 and turn left on the SS12, then turn right on Via Cammeo Carlo Salomone and pay to park at La Torre, is this outside the ZTL? Leaving in a few days and need to know. Also, do you know if we have to pay just to “see” the tower and not climb it?

    Many thanks!!

    • Yes it is. You do not pay to see the Tower, only to climb to the top. Have fun!

  9. Hi Gloria, just returned to Edinburgh after 14 great days in Tuscany. Your advice was very helpful. We started in Florence without car but then visited Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and Viareggio amongst others, all by car. We only had to pay for parking at San G and Viareggio. For info, in Pisa we parked immediately just inside gate at San Zeno on street, the zoned parking started at the next block – this was good fortune rather than planned! In Lucca there was significant park and ride free parking just off the ring road near Baluardo San Frediano. We walked into Lucca (10 minutes) but buses are available. In Siena we followed your advice and parked below the fortress walls near the stadium, easy walk into the city.
    As a general point we did not find the sign posting on the main roads great, you had to be alert so as not to miss your exit as we found to our cost returning to the Bagni di Lucca area from Siena. thanks again and hope our experience helps others. Gordon

  10. Sorry!I want to ask sth about Milan,Verona,Firenze,Pisa and Rome.So,if we find the car parking,Milan : Piazza Piemonte 14, 20145 Milano,should be good?No need to access ZTL zone.How abiut Rome?Rome: Via Giolitti, 267, 00185 Rome.It’s also no need to access ZTL zone?How about Pisa?Which the place n o need to cross the ZTL zone?

    • I have no idea. Italy is a big place. I do not know Milan, Rome, Verona and even Florence at all to recommend Parking. What I know of Pisa is in the article. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Keith

    Hi, do you know what the motorcycle parking is like in Siena and Pisa as we are going there next week with our two motorcycles. Thanks

    • Motorcycles are parked in car parks. I don’t think I have ever seen dedicated parking lots (for large motorbikes I mean).

  12. HI Gloria, Thank you very much for your post. I know you probably sick of us not totally understand what to do. Could you please advise if I’m right.

    From Florence, Superstrada Firenze Pisa Livorno then turn right into SS1, then turn right into SS12, and turn right into via Bonanno Pisano to Pisamo Parking.

    On the way back, I assume I can go back the same way? Bonnano Pisano to SS12 then SS1?

    Is this the safe way out without entering ZTL? ZTL is not really a zone, it’s just that you can’t pass the camera/sign entering ZTL, correct?

    Thank you very much for doing this for all of us.

    • Hi, not sure about street numbers. Anyway, if you keep out of the city walls you will be fine. Via Bonanno Pisano runs along the city wall. Pisamo is the City traffic management office. You probably mean parking La Torre, which is one of the Pisamo parking lots. Via Bonanno Pisano is a two way street so yes, you can go back that way. ZTL is the zone of the city where traffic is limited to residential traffic. Contrary to what people say, it is not that easy to get inside the ZTL. As long as you see blue parking spaces, you can be quite certain you are not inside the ZTL. Also, the cameras are very big, and the signs are also very big. You will be fine, don’t worry. You follow the traffic.

  13. Thanks a lot.

    Right, it’s La Torre. Sorry for my confusion. May I put the draft route map from Florence for your advise, and if it’s good enough for other people to see.

    Thank you very much for your kind help.


  14. Hi Gloria, interesting reading. We have hired a car and will be in Pisa for a night. We are then heading off for 2 nights in Riomaggiore. My question is – rather than drive to La Spezia and get a park then train into Riomaggiore, is there car parks in Pisa that you can leave your car safely for 3 daysand train direct to Riomaggiore. If so would you know approx costs of the long term parking. I see they have parks at the airports but unsure if you have to be flying as we are catching the train or do they have long term parking at the train stations? Thanks

    • Park for free at the park and ride in Via Pietrasantina and get to the station by bus: LAM Rossa buses run every 8 minutes.

  15. this blog is every helpful.

    my flight arrives late in pisa (7-30 pm) and i have made a reservation at a hotel in Lucca.

    i am aware that the time i am reaching, the day is almost over. but if possible i would still like to spend 2 or 3 hours in pisa . maybe i could get a glimpse of the tower and eat dinner at a local pisa restaurant.

    is this advisable and which would be the most convenient place to park (free or moderately priced). i will be renting a car.

    • After 8pm all parking spots are free. You can park in Piazza Carrara.

  16. Hi Gloria, I just found your blog which is great.
    My husband and I will be in Siena from 13th September to 16th September and the information online about parking answers every question but the one I need.
    We would like to park the car at the train station for those 3 and a half days without using it at all – that is, it needs to stay there overnight as well. a) Do you know if this is allowed and b) is it a safe area to leave it in? There won’t be any luggage in it. How can we pay for those days – at the beginning or end?

    If you can answer these questions I consider you a genius.
    Thanks, Patricia

    • Hi Patricia, sorry to reply so late. You must be already in Siena so you might be better informed than me. I would say you can leave your car there as long as you like. You pay when you leave the parking lot anyway.

  17. Mikhail

    Hi Gloria,
    We are going to stay 3 days in Florence (without a car), then 2 days in country (San Gimignano area) and two days in Siena. Between Florence and Sun Gimignano we want to visit (briefly) Lucca and Pisa. If there are toll roads in the area? How can we pay? Where to best park in Lucca and Pisa? 10 – 15 minutes walking from the attractions is fine. Ideally, close to the ‘highways’ – to easily get off / get on.



    • You can go by toll road (autostrada) or on the highway known as FIPILI (Firenze – Pisa – Livorno), which is free, but still a highway. If you choose to go via the autostrada, you get a ticket when you get on and you pay with coins at the toll booth when you get off by inputting the ticket and the coins in a machine before the bars.

  18. Hi Gloria,
    Thank you for all the information you’ve provided to help visitors to beautiful Tuscany – so helpful.
    I am also seeking your advice on parking in Pisa and avoiding any ZTL infraction (and fines) when I visit in early May 2016. I am considering parking at some identified pay-parking areas in the city, along Via Roma (along the Orto Botanico), or on Via Paolo Savi , or along Via Nicola Pisano or Via Derna – all within a small square block near the Orto Botanico. Are these pay parking areas within the ZTL zones of Pisa? If they are, where are the entry points to these roads for drivers to get to the parking areas legally?
    Hope you can help with some advice or info on parking for our trip into Pisa next month. Thanks so much!

    • Via Roma is ok. But the ZTL starts right there, before the Orto Botanico (the orto is already in the ZTL). You should not pass Via Derna.

  19. Cathy

    Thank you for your in depth overview of parking in Italy.
    We drove in Italy last year in June and have just received the infringement notice now saying we were in a ZTL area on San Lorenzo in Pisa. Do you know if there is restrictions on that street?

    • the entire center is resrticted. You must have entered from some gate that is ZTL.

  20. Siri

    Hi gloria!
    First of all thanks a lot for the detailed report! I just had one question: is it possible to leave my car overnight at Parcheggio Via Pietrasantina?
    Hope to hear from you & thanks in advance!

    • Yes, although occasionally I have heard of cases of car windows being smashed in

  21. Hello Gloria, is it free to park o the 15th August bank holiday in Pisa?

    • It should be, but I am not sure.


  1. […] to Florence after time in the Accademia Gallery; hopping in the car, we made our way to Pisa. Free parking can be found a ten minute walk away from the tower […]

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