VICENZA, Italy — Hundreds of Americans with vehicles registered on Caserma Ederle are now prohibited from driving them into the downtown area for six hours a day during the work week.

The city of Vicenza has enacted a new air pollution ordinance that targets cars manufactured before 1997 and motorcycles produced before 2000. All such vehicles are prohibited from driving in a downtown area from 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Violators face a fine of 75 euros, according to the regulations that went into effect this week and last through April 10.

Cities across northern Italy have tried a variety of measures in recent years in order to try to comply with the country’s air standards. Milan enacted a similar ban last year and installed checkpoints and cameras to catch violators. Other cities have restricted traffic based on license plate numbers or allowed only residents with stickers to enter.

There are a variety of exceptions to the Vicenza rule — including car pools of at least three people and emergency vehicles — but Americans in general are not exempt. Almost 800 vehicles registered at Caserma Ederle were made between 1992 and 1996, according to figures provided by the base’s vehicle registration office.

The ordinance technically just targets vehicles from those years, but base officials are advising against driving even older cars in the area as well, said Jon Fleshman, a public affairs officer with U.S. Army Garrison-Vicenza. That would add another 300 vehicles to the list.

The ordinance would similarly affect those with vehicles registered at Aviano Air Base, Camp Darby or any other installation in Italy. It would not impact those stationed in Germany or another country driving their own vehicles, because foreign-plated cars are exempt.

Caserma Ederle actually falls within the area of the ordinance, and Fleshman said officials are looking at measures that might be taken to address the regulation.

Luckily, the roads that most drivers take to get to the base do not fall within the prohibitive zone. Those driving from the A-4 autostrada and traveling to the main vehicle gate off Via Aldo Morro will narrowly avoid the zone.

Americans living in other parts of Italy face a variety of similar restrictions based on the level of air pollution found in their communities. Pordenone, Porcia and Cordenons have imposed a variety of restrictions in recent years that affect those stationed at Aviano. And Pisa (uses restrictions based on license plate numbers) and Livorno (which requires stickers) have also enacted restrictions in recent years that have put limits on those based at Camp Darby.

Naples has even broader restrictions targeting older vehicles on a year-round basis, but American-registered vehicles are exempt.

Stars and Stripes reporter Sandra Jontz contributed to this report.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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