The Spanish Steps have offered a resting place to many weary travellers over the years – but now being able to rest your feet by slumping on them with a cooling drink or gelato has come to an abrupt end.
The police in Rome are preventing people from sitting on the steps, as has been the tradition, because of the dangers of damage and erosion – and also the rubbish left on them.
New laws mean the police can issue a £230 fine to anyone caught sitting on the Spanish Steps – a place where people congregate to enjoy the view of the Fontana della Barcaccia (1627), which used to provide comfort to the poet Keats as he lay dying from tuberculosis in his bedchamber overlooking Piazza di Spagna.
Travellers also gather on the Spanish Steps with guitars – or busk at the foot of the steps for the entertainment of those sitting there.
However, leaving rubbish on the steps or damaging the stairway by hauling suitcases up or down it can now also attract a fine of £370.
Anyone who has tried to walk up the steps in one go will also know how challenging this can be, especially on a hot day!
However, Italy is getting tougher on those who potentially cause damage to its ancient monuments – in Rome, bathing in the fountains is prohibited, as is walking around bare chested.
And if you are visiting Venice, the same ban on bare chests and swimming in the canals has been introduced.
When in Italy, stand up and cover up seems to be the new message!
Images copyright A. Meredith except where stated.