Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

When in Rome: Tourists in Italian capital face fine for sitting on the famous Spanish Steps

The penalty is just one of a series of new laws introduced in Rome to help preserve its monuments

Police officers patrol the Spanish Steps on Wednesday, August 7. EPA
Police officers patrol the Spanish Steps on Wednesday, August 7. EPA

Roman holidays now come with new rules.

Last month, the Italian capital announced a raft of new laws aimed at protecting and preserving its myriad historical and artistic attractions, with policies barring rickshaw drivers, men dressed as Centurions and more.

The rules, which are targeted towards disruptive or damaging behaviour, have this week been enforced at a particular attraction, according to multiple reports.

The 174-stair Spanish Steps were built in the 18th century. EPA
The 174-stair Spanish Steps were built in the 18th century. EPA

Tourists are no longer allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps, the 174-step stairway featured in 1953 Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, that climbs from the Piazza di Spagna, and face fines starting from €250 (Dh1,069) for flouting the rules.

The penalty can rise to €400 if law-breakers are found to have defaced, dirtied or damaged, Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Police officers now patrol the famed staircase, a popular selfie spot and meeting place for tourists, actively dissuading visitors from sitting on the landmarks, which was built in the 1720s.

The steps underwent a 10-month, €1.5 million restoration three years ago, paid for by luxury accessories and fragrance brand Bulgari.

The rule also bars people from eating and drinking on the steps, a Unesco World Heritage-listed site that is the handiwork of architect Francesco De Sanctis, according to AFP.

The same policy applies to monuments around the capital, such as the Trevi Fountain, with behaviour such as jumping in fountains or walking around shirtless are also prohibited under the new rules.

Similar ordinances exist in other cultural hubs around Italy to protect monuments; last month in Venice, German tourists were penalised €950 for making coffee on the historic Rialto Bridge with a camping stove.

Venice also this week banned cruise ships from entering the historic city centre, following years of protest by locals who say the liners damage foundations and clog waterways.

In June, the city's mayor renewed calls for the ban, after a cruise ship struck a tourist boat and injured four people after losing control.

The MSC Opera experienced a mechanical problem that caused the engine to fail as it was docking on the Giudecca Canal, which leads to St Mark's Square, owner MSC Cruises said.

Updated: August 8, 2019 04:15 PM

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