Rome bans tourists from sitting on famous Spanish Steps, imposes steep fines for violators

The city of Rome has banned tourists from sitting on its famous Spanish Steps — and violators can face a fine of up to $280, according to a new report.

Police began patrolling the 136 steps on Tuesday and blowing whistles at anyone sitting, The Guardian reported. Sitting down, and being caught, will cost you 250 euro, or about $280. If you are caught damaging the steps or making a mess, the fine increases to 400 euro, or nearly $450.

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The new restriction was approved in early June, as were other rules that prohibit jumping into fountains, rolling suitcases, walking around without a shirt on, or engaging in "messy eating" at monuments, according to The Guardian.

A police officer asks a woman not to sit on the Spanish Steps, in Rome, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

A police officer asks a woman not to sit on the Spanish Steps, in Rome, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The new rule has some residents upset that people are being banned from merely sitting on the steps, and one local art critic and former deputy minister of culture even characterized it as a "fascist-style provision."

"Protecting a monument is fine, and obviously you shouldn’t eat on the steps, but the ban on sitting down is really excessive. It seems to me to be a fascist-style provision that the municipality will be forced to review," Vittorio Sgarbi told AdnKronos, an Italian news agency, per The Guardian.

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The steps were built in the 18th century and connect the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church. They are located roughly 15 minutes northeast of the Pantheon, on foot.

In 2016, the steps underwent restoration for 1.5 million euro, or approximately $1.6 million in today's market, paid for by the Italian jewelry company Bulgari.

Coffee stains, wine stains and wads of chewing gum were reportedly removed, The Telegraph has reported.

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But while tourists can often leave messes, some local residents still don't like the idea of banning sitting altogether.

Tommaso Tanzilli, a director of the Italian hotels association, told The Guardian, "We agree that people shouldn't 'camp out' and eat on the steps of monuments, as rubbish gets left behind. But criminalizing people for sitting down, especially if they are elderly, is a little exaggerated."

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However, there are those who are in favor of the ban, including local businesses.

“This is a small return to civility. To try to check who is damaging the monument by eating and drinking, you would need a police officer for every tourist," Gianni Battistoni, the president of a local association of businesses, told The Telegraph.