No more sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

The marble steps, an architectural jewel of Italy's capital, have long been a place for sightseers to stop and watch the world go by.
The marble steps, an architectural jewel of Italy's capital, have long been a place for sightseers to stop and watch the world go by.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROME • Tourists to the Eternal City will no longer be able to catch their breath on the Spanish Steps, after Rome banned people from sitting on the famous monument.

Police could be seen blowing whistles to order people up and off the Steps in the historic centre on Tuesday, an Agence France-Presse photographer reported.

The marble steps, one of the architectural jewels of the Italian capital, have long been a place for weary sightseers to stop and watch the world go by - while possibly scoffing down a quick sandwich or slurping a milkshake.

But in an attempt to crack down on slovenly behaviour, the city council issued new rules earlier this summer banning all "camping out" or "sitting" on historic monuments, including the Steps and the "boat" fountain at its feet.

Transgressors could be slapped with a fine of up to €400 (S$621) for everything from sitting and going shirtless to bathing in fountains and dragging wheeled suitcases down the historic steps.

The landmark, made famous in the United States by the 1953 film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, underwent a €1.5 million renovation in 2016, financed by upmarket jeweller Bulgari.

The marble had been discoloured by years of pollution, caked in chewing gum and stained by wine and coffee spills.

The Steps, designed by architect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1726 and dominated by the Trinita dei Monti church at the top, are a Unesco site.

Last month, two German tourists were fined €950 for making themselves a coffee on the steps of the famous Rialto bridge in Venice, and were asked to leave the city.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'No more sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps'. Print Edition | Subscribe