Rome (DailyExpertNews) — When in Rome, don’t drive your fancy sports car down historic stairs.
That advice was apparently not followed by a man who drove his rented Maserati over the city’s Spanish Steps this week and is now being charged with alleged damage to the monument, police in the Italian capital said.
The unnamed 37-year-old Saudi national accused of being behind the wheel was detained at Milan’s Malpensa Airport after police identified him through the car rental company based on images of the vehicle captured by surveillance cameras.
He has been charged with serious damage to cultural heritage and monuments.
Video footage of the incident released by police shows the Maserati being pulled into the pedestrian zone above the stairs between Tuesday and Wednesday. The car descends the first flight of stairs before stopping. Then someone is seen getting out of the vehicle and inspecting his plight.
The car caused fractures to the 16th and 29th steps of the right-hand flight that took off from Spanish Square, Rome’s heritage protection agency said in a statement.
Some marble fragments were temporarily reattached “to allow for immediate reopening to pedestrians,” it said.
‘Chippings, scratches and abrasions’
Heritage experts say the car broke two steps.
Rome’s Superintendent for Cultural Heritage
More work will be needed “to restore the damaged steps by replacing the broken parts with travertine blocks that are compatible in color and material properties” with the damaged steps.
Cultural heritage technicians are evaluating the economic damage from the accident, as they also found “widespread stone chips, scratches, abrasions and deposits on both second-level slopes attributable to the same event,” the statement said.
The Spanish Steps are among Rome’s most celebrated monuments. They get their name from the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See which is located in a palazzo in the square below.
In 2015, the stairs underwent a two-year restoration costing 1.5 million euros, sponsored by Bulgari jewelry house, which has its flagship store in nearby Via dei Condotti.
The Spanish Steps have served as the backdrop for scenes in numerous films, most notably “Roman Holiday,” the 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Top Image Credit: Polizia Roma Capitale