Italian Driver, 80, Had Trick to Dodge Tolls

Authorities say he traveled for free for 2 years by squeezing through behind other drivers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Italian Driver, 80, Had Trick to Dodge Tolls
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Darwel)

Highway authorities in Italy are not amused by the antics of an 80-year-old retirement home resident who loves traveling as much as he hates paying tolls. Mario—nicknamed "nonno Mario," meaning "grandfather Mario"—is accused of dodging more than $4,300 in highway tolls by tailgating other drivers through lanes reserved for people with prepaid passes, the Guardian reports. At entrances and exits to the system, he managed to get his Fiat Punto through behind the other car before the barrier came down. Authorities say he traveled for free on the country's highway system before two years, but his vehicle was identified through surveillance footage and he could face a trial on fraud charges if he doesn't cough up the unpaid tolls.

Mario tells Corriere Della Sera that he's not a wealthy man—his entire pension goes into the retirement home and his two children also contribute, he says—but his main reason for not paying is that he doesn't feel the highway system is worth the price. He says he started driving around the country at night after other residents at the home in central Italy fell asleep and he was bored. He says travel has always been his passion. "I get excited in front of the Colosseum, in front of the Royal Palace of Caserta, in front of the Royal Palace of Naples," he says. (More weird crimes stories.)

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