Tourist damages Rome’s Spanish Steps by pushing a scooter down

For the past 300 years, the Spanish Steps in Rome have been descended by artists, poets and lovers. They provided a sweeping backdrop for fashion shows and selfies, and appeared in dozens of films, including 1953’s “Roman Holiday” starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

And last week they returned to international headlines after a tourist pushed an electric scooter under them, causing €25,000 (about $27,000) in damage.

On June 3, at around 2:45 am, two American tourists, a man and a woman, aged 29 and 28, were stopped by police after throwing a scooter down the Spanish Steps, according to a local police statement. The duo was not named.

A widely circulated video showed the woman pushing her scooter down the stairs as a handful of people watched. The man, who was accompanying her, was also seen dragging his scooter down the stairs.

The two were fined €400 (about $430), according to the statement. As the woman appeared to intentionally push her scooter down the stairs, a more formal complaint was filed against her for damaging a monument. This crime is punishable by up to 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 drunk” on the night of the incident and were barred from entering the site for six months after causing the damage.

The steps, one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, were built in the 1720s and connect Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinità dei Monti. In 2016, they underwent a 10-month, €1.5 million restoration that was financed by Bulgari, the Italian luxury brand whose flagship store in Rome is at the base of the stairs.

Three years ago, new city rules introduced a fine for sitting on steps, part of a broader effort to protect the character of Rome’s historic centre.

The scooter incident came weeks after a Saudi Arabian man drove a Maserati sports car down the stairs, damaging at least two of them, according to Rome police.

Mr. Pasqualetti said the incident was not an act of vandalism, but an accident. “Instead of turning right, he turned left and found himself on the stairs,” he said, “at that moment he didn’t have time to brake and went down the stairs.”

Tourists have returned to Rome in droves, two years after Italy was the grim epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.

Italian authorities recently announced that travelers to Italy would no longer be required to present proof of vaccination, recent recovery or negative test.

“I think the conditions exist for a summer without restrictions,” Andrea Costa, the undersecretary of health, said at the time.

Those working in the city’s most iconic spots said in May that travelers were once again filling the streets, with at least one hotelier telling The New York Times: “It seems like no one is afraid of Covid anymore.”

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