Over the past 300 years, the Spanish Steps in Rome have been descended by artists, poets and lovers. They were an expansive backdrop for fashion shows and selfies, and were featured in dozens of films, including 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
And in the past week, they made international headlines again after a tourist pushed an electric scooter off him, causing 25,000 euros (about $27,000) in damage.
At around 2:45 a.m. on June 3, according to a local police press release, two American tourists, a man and a woman, aged 29 and 28, were stopped by police after throwing a scooter off the Spanish Steps. The couple was not named.
A widely circulated video shows the woman pushing her scooter down the stairs while a handful of people watched. The man accompanying her was also seen dragging his scooter down the stairs.
The pair were fined €400 (about $430) each, the release said. As the woman appeared to be deliberately pushing her scooter down the stairs, a more formal complaint was filed against her for damaging a monument. That offense carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison or a fine of at least €2,000.
Franco Pasqualetti, a spokesman for Rome’s city council, said the two tourists were “completely intoxicated” on the night of the incident and had been banned from the site for six months after causing the damage.
The stairs, one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, were built in the 1720s and connect Piazza di Spagna with Piazza Trinità dei Monti. In 2016, they underwent a 10-month restoration worth €1.5 million that was endorsed by Bulgari, the Italian luxury brand whose flagship store in Rome is at the foot of the stairs.
Three years ago, new municipal rules introduced a fine for sitting on the stairs, as part of a wider effort to protect the character of Rome’s historic center.
Police in Rome say the scooter incident came weeks after a Saudi Arabian man ran down the stairs in a Maserati sports car, damaging at least two of them.
Mr Pasqualetti said the incident was not vandalism but an accident. “Instead of turning right, he turned left and found himself on the stairs,” he said, “at that point he didn’t have time to brake and went down the stairs.”
Tourists have returned in droves to Rome, two years after Italy was the grim epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
The Italian authorities recently announced that travelers to Italy will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test.
“I think the conditions exist for a summer without restrictions,” Andrea Costa, the health secretary of state, said at the time.
Those who worked in the city’s most iconic spots said in May that travelers once again filled the streets, with at least one hotelier telling DailyExpertNews: “It seems like nobody is afraid of Covid anymore.”