The Spanish Steps have always provided a welcome — and iconic — resting point for visitors to Rome, but now, taking a moment to sit and kick back on the steps is officially illegal.
The new ordinance went into effect on July 8, but the Associated Press reports that it wasn’t until the week of August 7, 2019, that police officers in yellow vests started to deploy the new law. As part of the new ordinance, people caught sitting, eating, or drinking on the steps can face fines of up to 400 euro ($450).
Italian tourist Tommaso Galletta told the AP that he disagreed with the sitting ban. “This monument is so beautiful. There was a child sitting who was tired, sitting down with his father a few minutes ago, and the traffic officer asked them to stand up,” he said.
Other visitors find the new rule an easy order to follow. “If we have to follow the regulation, we have to follow it. We do not have a problem with that,” said Jurgen Meier, a German tourist.
The steps were built in the 1720s to link the Trinità dei Monti church above with the square below. The 137 steps became a meeting place for artists, painters, and poets before evolving into a site that’s adored by tourists from all over the world. Today, the recently renovated site is one of the city’s top destinations — with travelers coming from all over the world to climb the steps and look out over the Fontana Della Barcaccia below.
Simone Amorico, CEO of Italian tour company Access Italy, told The Washington Post, however, that sitting on the steps is not a tradition among Romans.
“Italians don’t do that,” he said. “I’ve never hung out at the Spanish Steps. My friends have never hung out at the Spanish Steps. We really respect our city. We don’t stand on any ancient walls, or put locks on any of the bridges.”
The Spanish Steps aren’t the only Roman location with new rules. The ordinance that bans sitting, eating, and drinking also applies to the Trevi Fountain and other popular city sites. Rome’s move to control unwelcome tourist behaviors mimics actions that have taken place in Florence, where eating on church steps is banned, and Venice, where shirtless gondola rides are a fineable offense.
Source: Evie Carrick August 07, 2019
Photo: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty Images