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You Could Be Fined $450 for Sitting on Rome's Spanish Steps

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 8/8/2019 Louis Cheslaw
a castle with water in front of a building © Getty

Officials in Italy are sick of slow-moving tourists looking for a place to sit on public monuments.

This week, Rome announced that visitors can now be fined €400 ($450) for sitting on the city's historic Spanish Steps, which for decades have served as a crowded picnic, drinking, and resting spot for hordes of travelers looking for a free place to lounge after sightseeing. Officials also approved an even greater fine of $500 for anyone who attempts to swim in the Trevi Fountain.

How will Rome enforce the new no-sit rule amid the throngs of tourists at the Spanish Steps? According to reports from the area this week, police will sharply blow whistles two times in the direction of anyone who attempts to sit down and shoo them away. As one city official told the New York Times: “You couldn’t walk around the Metropolitan Museum snacking on food and slurping a Coke,” he said. “We expect the same for the center of Rome.”

Rome's announcement follows last month's news that officials in Venice had expelled two tourists from the city (and fined them more than $1,000) for brewing coffee near the Rialto Bridge. Even with Rome's new policies, the capital has a long way to go to match Venice's strictures. Currently, visitors to the floating city face fines for everything from standing still on bridges to buying from street traders, and dipping their toes in the canal. And it's not just Italy's cities that are cracking down. German supermodel Heidi Klum is currently facing a fine of more than $6,000 for swimming in Capri's famous Blue Grotto underwater cave on her honeymoon this summer.

Ever since they served as the backdrop for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's whirlwind romance in Roman Holiday, the Spanish Steps have been a must-see destination for travelers to Rome. If anything, this week's law means the steps will now look more like they did in the movie and less like an outdoor airport terminal. If you're traveling to Rome and find you need to rest your legs, check out our list of the city's greatest eateries instead.

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