I just read the piece about Barcelona, Spain, and the Stone Roses concerts and am compelled to write "Kudos to Kari Howard" ["Rock the Vacay," July 22].
Her style, the personality of her writing, the great unusual descriptions, all were so refreshing and engaging. Her words built such a vivid picture of her trip, the place, her feelings and excitement about it all. I've wanted to go to Barcelona, but now she's really put the hook in me. I look forward to reading more from her.
For the record, Howard is not crazy. I flew to Dublin to see two shows of my favorite band, U2, after its five-year break in 2005. I flew home the next morning, after no sleep, only to fly back again five days later to see them at Live 8 in London's Hyde Park. Music, among thousands of fellow fans, keeps us young at heart.
The vehicle code of Italy
Regarding "Italy's Road Rules Sting Travelers" by Catharine Hamm [On the Spot, July 22]: Susan Spano was right in paying the fine to avoid the hassle. I did the same thing. First, I spoke with an English-speaking person who told me that I could contest the ticket but that if I were found guilty, the fine would double because the deadline would have passed. I had no idea about registering the car with the police. I'll bet 99 of 100 people don't know that. I will do that in the future.
Paul Del Bene
Having just read the article on Italy's road rules, I add would like to add some information.
If you are a handicapped person, you can display your card and gain access to some cities' pedestrian areas with no problem. It is a problem in a major city such as Florence. Although I had taped a copy of my placard on the rear window of my car and used the hanging placard on my rear-view mirror, as my Italian friend instructed me to do, I still received tickets in the mail.
This is how I handled them: I faxed a letter stating I was the one driving (or in the car at the time), also included was a copy of my placard and the certificate of proof that it belongs to me. I added a copy of my driver's license as well. They canceled every citation. It had to be done for each ticket received. It is an arduous task, but when you add up what you save it is well worth taking the time and effort to do so.
Warning: Not all marked handicapped parking spaces are available to the public. Actually, very few are. I found out the hard way. Some are designated for use by a single person and are registered to them and only they can use it. Those spaces have a registration number on the sign … surprise! That one I had to pay for, but after I paid they said I didn't have to. Go figure.
Corona del Mar
I read with interest Hamm's article. When we encountered the same trap in Florence last year, we were blessed with:
--Two citations of 119 euros each for the same event that occurred 11 months prior (i.e. within minutes of each other on the same route).
--Fees from Hertz of 36 euros for each "incident" for their "services" in providing the city of Florence gendarme our contact information.
That's 310 euros, or about $380, for driving to our hotel in the center of the city at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night.
Hertz could have warned or informed us about how best avoid these traps, but it was and is profitable for them not to do so.
Bottom line, unless you want to hire a translator and then send a letter to an official who stands to double the fine if he rejects your request (no joke; in our case, that would have been in the $856 range), accept that tourists are being shaken down by a country desperate for cash flow and pay the (unconscionable) fine in a timely manner.
I blame Hertz as much as the Italian Tourist officials for this disgraceful assault on tourists.
Because most Americans driving in Italy do so in rented cars, why can't the rental agencies equip all their cars with the ZTL permits — or, at least, those rented to foreigners?