Monday, June 17, 2013

We Promised Parking Hints -- Here They Are

        We promised to do a post about parking in various Umbrian towns because so many visitors come by car and then don't know where to park. We don't know everything and we are ready for input from anyone who has a better idea to offer. For now, here are some  hints.


      If the lines for parking spaces are blue, you must pay for parking. Parking areas also have a P on a sign either at the spot or directing you there. Be careful not to park in a handicapped space. To pay for parking, you must find the machinetta, the self-service machine. Use coins if possible, as some won't make change. The search for the machinetta can be frustrating -- they are usually mounted on a grey column and have a P sticker. The prices can be different depending on the place, so add money until the display shows the approximate time you want to leave. Then push the green button and collect the ticket. Now you must go back to your car and place the ticket (not upside down) on your dashboard so that the police can see that you have paid and are not using an expired ticket. (At some places with blue lines and no machinetta, you may have to go in the nearest bar and ask if they sell parking tickets. If so, put it on your dashboard as you would a ticket from a machinetta).

        We like parking in the Orvietano parking lot because from there you can take the elevator up to the top of the town. We also prefer the steeper road up to Todi, which is reached coming from Ponte Rio -- there is a bridge, then an immediate right. There is a small building right at the corner. It's a straight shot up the hill to the gates of the town. Turn right there and follow the walls (and signs) around to Orvietano parking. If the elevator isn't working, there is always a shuttle bus every fifteen minutes. If you stay past midnight, you will have to walk down the steps, which are reached by taking the road next to Oberdan restaurant down to where the stairs begin. It's a parklike walk. If you think you will be later than midnight, you must pay the parking in advance so that your token will open the gate to get out of the lot. Otherwise, you'll have a problem.
        If you prefer to drive up to the top, chances are you won't find parking. There is a parking lot at Piazza Garibaldi, which is usually full, and there is some public parking in front of San Fortunato church, which is also usually full. If you don't find a place, you'll have to drive back down and start over, which is why we really like Orvietano and the elevator.
         If you decide that driving straight up the hill is too daunting, take the next road to Todi, after the train station, and you will wind your way to the top. You will arrive at a round about at Porta Romana gate to Todi. Facing the gate you will follow the walls around to the left, passing the big Bramante church (Consolazione) and staying to the left until you see the sign for Orvietano parking directing you to the right.

       *** The Orvietano parking lot has a gate at the entrance. You will take a green plastic token from the machine at the gate. You will keep this token until you leave. The token is electric and the clerk will use it to see how much to charge you. You will put it in the gate to get out. See above for after midnight departures.


      In Orvieto we like to park across from the funicolare station, which is halfway to the top of the town. Follow the signs up to the centre, up and up until you arrive at the big parking lot on your right. The funicolare station is where the shuttle buses come to take you up to the piazza of the Duomo. Also, right here is the Pozzo di San Patrizio, the historic deep well that early inhabitants used to bring water safely up from the bottom of the rocca. Buy a ticket for the shuttle for 1 Euro inside the funicolare station. You will probably want to walk back down the hill to your car, as the streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries.
       Your other option is to follow the signs to the train station and park there. You would then take the funicolare from there up to the station mentioned above, take the shuttle, etc.
       Although we often buy ceramics at the southern exit from the E45, sometimes we like to go up to the old town. The ceramics museum is a good one and there are many small studios with working artists. Therefore, drive up to the centre, following the signs. Outside the gate of the town, there are some parking spaces. If those are full, there is a bigger lot just down the road across from the cemetery.


      Thank goodness for the wonderful Mini Metro. To catch it, get off the E45 when you see the sign for the stadium (stadio) at the Madonna Alta exit. You will find a very big parking lot and the Mini Metro station there. Buy a ticket from the machine and hop on this very clever transport system. Get off at the last stop and you will be steps away from Corso Vannucci. The parking here is free.


       We like to park across the Via Flaminia (SS3) from the town and walk across the old ponte  (bridgeand down to the town. It's a very dramatic way to enter Spoleto. What you need to do is find the San Pietro church, which is on the map, across the highway from the town. Follow the road to the left and you will arrive at the entrance to the walkway across the old aquaduct. Park there. With camera in hand, walk down the path and across this amazing bridge. When you arrive on the other side, look back and take a photo. Then walk down to the little piazzetta with the fountain with the face. You are now above the Duomo. This parking is free.
      Trying to park in the town is difficult because there is a series of one way streets and if you make the wrong turn or the parking lot is full, you will have to start all over. You could try Piazza Liberta', which is where the tourist office is located, as well as the Roman theatre. There is a machinetta here.


      Assisi is the most famous town in Umbria and, therefore, can be overwhelmingly full of tourists in the summer. We take the road that passes through Santa Maria degli Angeli and drive up towards Assisi until we are almost to the top. There will be sharp turn to the right and to the left, you will see a piazza where the entrance to the big parking lot is located.
This parking lot also offers underground parking, which is very nice in summer. There are also restrooms. To get to San Francesco duomo, you will have to walk up the hill, but not nearly as far as if you park other places. You take a parking ticket when you enter the lot and pay at the booth before you leave.
       If you turn to the sharp right, as mentioned above, you will find another public parking lot on the right. From here you can walk through the entire town of Assisi to reach the Duomo, which can be interesting in cooler weather.


       Parking in the main piazza is iffy and the machinetta only gives you one hour. Plus, sometimes you can get up there, especially in tourist season, and find the road is blocked.
So, you should either 1) go in the Borgo Garibaldi gate on the west side of the walled town. As soon as you enter the gate, go left around the wall. There will be parking places along the wall, marked with blue lines, or, 2) turn left at Borgo Garibaldi outside the walls and go as far as you can toward the roundabout at the lookout point, Ringhiera Umbria. There are also parking spaces just beyond the lookout. From here you can walk up the Via Ringhiera Umbria to the Museum of San Francesco and the main piazza.


      Coming down from Montefalco, Bevagna will be on the left just as the road turns sharply to the right. The landscape is flat here. The first entrance to Bevagna can be seen from your car. There is a parking lot before the bridge outside the walls to the right. The lot can be seen from the road. Otherwise, if you go to the other end of Bevagna (towards Foligno), you will find parking outside of that gate, as well.


     Norcia is surrounded by a heart-shaped wall. We usually turn right along the wall and then left again at the point of the heart. There is parking along the wall and across the street from the gate that leads into the town on Via Roma. This is the closest way to arrive at the main piazza. 


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