Tourists in Rome are no longer permitted to sit on the Spanish Steps, the iconic staircase that links the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti.
The Spanish Steps is one of Rome’s most precious landmarks and one of the most photographed attractions in Italy. Built between 1723 and 1726, the 135-step, white marble staircase has been the backdrop to fashion shows, photoshoots and has featured in iconic films like 1953’s Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
It’s also a place where tourists grab their bearings, study maps, eat gelato or listen to music from street performers below. As such, it has become less of a stairway and more of a congregation point. Over the years, Roman officials have tried to discourage people from sitting there for too long by banning snacking or loitering but the rules haven’t been strictly enforced until now.
On Tuesday, the AFP reported that police ordered people from the steps by blowing whistles to catch their attention and move them along. The action follows new rules issued this summer that bans all “camping out” or “sitting” on historic monuments, including the Spanish Steps. The rules also prohibit people from taking wheeled suitcases or pushchairs up the sweeping UNESCO monument. Those who break the rules could face a fine of up to €400 ($447).
In 2016, the Spanish Steps underwent a €1.5 ($1.7) million restoration, funded by luxury Italian jewellery brand, Bulgari. The project involved more than 80 restorers and master craftspeople who cleaned and repaired the monument after it had become damaged from years of wear and tear. It had suffered some abuse from loiterers and was covered in discarded chewing gum, cigarette butts and coffee and red wine stains.
Rome’s new tourist rules, known as Daspos, are aimed at preserving the character of the city by encouraging visitors to respect their surroundings. The Daspos have been introduced in cities like Florence and Venice and prevent other disruptive behaviours like wading through fountains, eating or drinking or climbing on monuments and walking through cities partially clothed. Last month, two German visitors were fined €950 ($1058) for making coffee on the Rialto bridge in Venice and were asked to leave the city.