Visitors to Rome’s famous Spanish Steps looking to take a load off will need to keep on walking.
Earlier this week, city officials made good on their promise to preserve Rome’s historic and cultural spots by fining visitors in violation of the city’s ordinances — including sitting or lying down on the UNESCO-protected monument.
And the fines are not insignificant. Starting at 250 euros ($280), tourists may be charged upwards of 400 euros ($448) if they’ve soiled or damaged the steps in any way.
Restoration — at a cost of some €1.5 million — of the Spanish Steps was finished in October 2016. Bulgari, an Italian luxury brand, footed the massive cleaning effort while it celebrated its 130th anniversary.
Visitors to Rome’s cultural hotspots, including the Spanish Steps, have not been able to eat or drink with impunity for years on the monuments’ grounds, but the sitting or lounging fine is a new addition.
Simone Amorico, CEO of Access Italy, a private tour operator, sees the law as necessary. “The situation,” he says, noting the increase in visitors to the Spanish Steps, “is getting out of control.”
This fine comes on the heels of other recent Italian preservation efforts: swimming banned in Trevi fountain; Florence’s eating-in-the-streets ban; and, most recently, Venice’s decision to stop letting huge cruise ships dock in the city’s historic center.
While some recent moves seem to be a direct attempt to curb overtourism, this particular fine is aimed squarely at preservation.
Park benches, sidewalk cafes and terraces welcome tired travelers, encouraging guests to sit and stay awhile.
Historic monuments, however, serve a different purpose, one that does not invite weary travelers to relax in the space but rather to respect it.