We’ve been visting the island of Elba just off the coast of Tuscany this week and parking here has almost never been free. It seems that just about anywhere you try to park your little rental car, there’s either a machine, or a guy waiting there to collect Euros.

Today we went to a gorgeous beach called Cavoli. We wound our way down a long and curvy steep little road off the main highway and at the end, found the sign that had that familiar blue P. Parcheggio they call it here. The same people who sell the parking spots also rent beach umbrellas and lounge chairs. So we ponied up 22 Euros for a half day and found ourselves comfortable with front row view of the blue Mediterranean while our car enjoyed a shady spot between two poles under grape arbors.

You can’t just park in the municipal parking lots here either. No way, you gotta park then find the little machine to insert 2 or 3 Euros, then return to the car to put the little time slip in the front window. we learned the hard way in Lucca where were just 10 minutes late and wound up with a 22 euro ticket. We had even bought more time after we got lucky the first time but then got nailed anyway when we stayed too long over espressos after lunch.

One thing you do get when you stay at a hotel here is one sliver of a space for your car. That makes it all the more worth it not to drive into the town, but walk and leave the car safely between the poles. Otherwise we’d have to pay that cute attendant who sits there under the shade of the grape arbors smoking cigarettes waiting for the next customer to pony up.

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