In the past 300 years, the Spanish Steps in Rome have been descended by artists, poets and lovers. They have provided a sweeping backdrop for fashion shows and selfies, and have featured in dozens of films, including 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
And in the past week they have again drawn international headlines, after a tourist pushed an electric scooter down them, causing 25,000 euros (about $27,000) in damage.
Around 2:45 a.m. June 3, two American tourists, a man and a woman, ages 29 and 28, were stopped by police after throwing a scooter down the Spanish Steps, according to a news release from local police. The pair were not named.
Widely circulated video showed the woman shoving her scooter down the stairs while a handful of people looked on. The man, who was accompanying her, was also seen dragging his scooter down the stairs.
The pair were each fined 400 euros (about $430), the release said. Because the woman appeared to intentionally push her scooter down the stairs, a more formal complaint was filed against her for damaging a monument. That offense is punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of at least 2,000 euros ($2,130).
Franco Pasqualetti, a spokesperson for Rome’s City Council, said that the two tourists were “completely drunk” on the night of the incident and had been barred from 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 the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti. In 2016, they underwent a 10-month, 1.5 million euro ($1.6 million) restoration that was underwritten by Bulgari, an Italian luxury brand whose flagship store in Rome is at the base of the steps.
Three years ago, new municipal rules introduced a fine for sitting on the steps, part of a broader effort to protect the character of Rome’s historic center.
The scooter incident came weeks after a man from Saudi Arabia drove a Maserati sports car down the steps, damaging at least two of them, according to police in Rome.
Pasqualetti said that incident was not an act of vandalism but an accident. “Instead of turning right, he turned left and found himself on the staircase,” he said. “At that point he did not have the 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 show proof of vaccination, recent recovery or a 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 again filling the streets, with at least one hotelier telling The New York Times, “It seems like no one is afraid of COVID any longer.”