Authorities in Rome are now exercising unnecessarily strict control of the famous Spanish Steps, as police have been chasing off tourists who decide to rest on the staircase.
The police started guarding the marble steps yesterday. They blew their whistles at people who were waiting on the staircase. For many years, this Unesco world heritage site has been a popular place for weary tourists to take a break. Now though, a fine of €250 could await you just for choosing to sit down on the stairs that lead to the Trinità dei Monti church. Dirtying or causing damage to the stairs would fetch you a fine of €400.
Firmer laws for unruly tourists
This is just one of several new rules established by authorities in the beginning of June, such as a ban on “messy eating” near monuments, bare-chested wandering, climbing into fountains, and hauling wheeled suitcases and pushchairs on historic staircases.
“Protecting a monument is fine, and obviously you shouldn’t eat on the steps, but the ban on sitting down is really excessive,” says controversial art critic and former deputy minister of culture, Vittorio Sgarbi. “It seems to me to be a fascist-style provision that the municipality will be forced to review.”
“We agree that people shouldn’t ‘camp out’ and eat on the steps of monuments, as rubbish gets left behind,” said Tommaso Tanzilli, a director at the Rome unit of Federalberghi. “But criminalizing people for sitting down, especially if they are elderly, is a little exaggerated.”
President of Fiepet-Confesercenti in Rome, Claudio Pica, says that the new rule is ridiculous and it is likely to deter tourists.
Policies not unlike this have been established in Venice as well, with stewards patrolling St Mark’s Square and several other monuments over the summer. The act of chasing people off seems quite pointless though, as more visitors soon take their place.