Tourists hoping to create the famous ice cream scene from Roman Holiday are in for some disappointment.
The city of Rome has banned people from sitting on the Spanish Steps, a popular tourist destination, and doing so could earn visitors up to a €400 fine, or about $450, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
While the rule is one of several meant to “guarantee decorum” that took effect in July, police officers began patrolling the monument for violators this week.
The steps, built in the 1700s, connect the Trinità dei Monti church at the top with the Piazza di Spagna below. The location is also a UNESCO world heritage site, and the steps were restored as recently as 2016 in a €1.5 million effort funded by the luxury brand Bulgari, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
Other activities banned under the new regulations include “messy eating” on monuments and tossing objects or climbing into several historic fountains — though tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain is still allowed, according to the city’s website. Other new restrictions include tightened control on alcohol sales and consumption, and stricter laws concerning prostitution and the mistreatment of animals.
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Some find the government’s new regulations a little too strict, however.
“We agree that people shouldn’t ‘camp out’ and eat on the steps of monuments, as rubbish gets left behind,” Tommaso Tanzilli, a director with the Italian hotels association Federalberghi told The Guardian. “But criminalizing people for sitting down, especially if they are elderly, is a little exaggerated.”
Nonetheless, proponents of the rules say the city of Rome is a museum in and of itself and should be respected.
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“You need to set rules to reduce the risk of people being disrespectful to the city of Rome. So many things are so old and so ancient,” tour company Access Italy CEO Simone Amorico told the Washington Post.
“Walking in Rome is like walking in a museum,” Amorico explained. “Things go back 2,000 years old. You can walk from one part of the city to the other and pass the most important monuments and venues there are in history.”
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