World

Rome bans people from sitting on Spanish Steps

Sitting on Rome's famous Spanish Steps is no longer allowed as the city has brought a ban into effect against such behaviour to protect its cultural relics.

Wading into the Trevi Fountain could also mean a fine under new rules

A 'Roma Capitale' local traffic auxiliary, left, patrols the Spanish Steps off Trinita' dei Monti church in Rome. Tourists are no longer allowed to eat while on the steps or sit down and rest. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

Sitting on Rome's famous Spanish Steps is no longer allowed as the city has brought a ban into effect against such behaviour to protect its cultural relics.

Police officers have begun patrolling the steps and cautioning anyone found sitting on them. Offenders who ignore officers' warnings risk a fine of 250 euros (370 Cdn), which can go up to 400 euros (590 Cdn) if the steps are dirtied or damaged.

"Visitors are not allowed to sit on the steps. They are also forbidden to eat or write on the stairs. Besides, some behaviours are also banned, such as selling goods without permission or dressing up as an ancient Roman officer to take pictures with tourists. We are here to make people follow these rules," said Antonio Di Maggio, director of the municipal police of Rome.

Built in 1725 AD, the Spanish Steps are part of the famous Piazza di Spagna in Rome. The scenic spot has attracted numerous visitors with its unique features. The Spanish Steps have also featured in some classic films, including the American romantic comedy film Roman Holiday.

Residents and visitors have shown different attitudes toward the ban.

"I've been living here for 30 years and working here every day in the Piazza di Spagna. But now people are not allowed to sit on the stairs. The Spanish Steps is an important place for residents and tourists to meet and chat," said Enrico, a local resident.

"The ban may be inconvenient to some people, especially for the elderly. However, I think it's the right thing to do to help preserve the beautiful Rome and the steps," said Fabio, an Italian visitor.

There are dozens of steps in the famous stairway, so many tourists like to stop to take a break before reaching the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. (Vincenzo PintoéAFP/Getty Images)

Apart from protecting the steps, the country has also introduced measures to protect other cities with various cultural sites. Venice has enacted a series of laws to control the number of tourists and regulate their behaviour, such as imposing tax and banning eating and drinking in scenic spots.

The same law that protects the steps also applies to the city's fountains, including the famed Trevi Fountain. Visitors are now banned from entering the waters or climbing on the structures.