Travel is back, and apparently so is the disappointing trend of tourist vandalism.
At around 2:45 a.m. on June 3, two twentysomething American tourists were stopped by police after allegedly causing an estimated 25,000 euros, or more than $26,000 worth of damage, to the famed Spanish Steps in Rome with electric scooters, according to the Guardian.
The unnamed American tourists were caught on security cameras pushing the scooters down the famous steps that connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinità dei Monti in Italy’s capital city, CNN reported.
Police reportedly caught up with the tourists and fined them €400 euros each. The duo were barred from the site for six months, the New York Times reported.
The latest damage to the Spanish Steps, one of Rome’s biggest tourist attractions and a backdrop in Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s 1953 film Roman Holiday, comes two weeks after a 37-year-old man from Saudi Arabia allegedly drove a Maserati down the steps.
In 2016, the Spanish Steps reopened after undergoing a 10-month, €1.5 million restoration project to repair damage. Hoping to maintain the integrity of the iconic steps, tourists were banned from sitting on them three years ago.
Rome, home to a wide array of ancient monuments and structures, is no stranger to tourist vandalism.
In April, two Dutch tourists were fined for wading into the Trevi Fountain. Just a few days later, a 39-year-old Argentine man flew his drone into the Palazzo Venezia, a Renaissance-style mansion dating to the 15th century from which fascist dictator Benito Mussolini made several famous speeches.
American tourists have also done their fair share of damage to Italy’s historical monuments. In 2015 two Americans were accused of vandalizing the Colosseum. In 2013, an American tourist broke the finger off a 600-year-old statue at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence.
After two long years of stunted tourism numbers due to COVID-19, Italy dropped its COVID travel restrictions on June 1. More than 92 million tourists are expected to visit Italy this year, which would be a 35% increase from the year prior, according to the research institute for tourism, Demoskopika.
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