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'Please, No Sitting': Rome Now Enforcing New Ban

Visitors can no longer sit on the famed Spanish Steps
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 7, 2019 12:45 PM CDT
A Police officer asks a woman not to sit on the Spanish Steps, in Rome, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. Police started the enforcement of a law designed to protect monuments and landmarks and are forbidding...   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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(Newser) – Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn perched there without a care in the 1953 film Roman Holiday. But the Spanish Steps in Rome are no longer a place for sitting. Enforcing an ordinance that took effect last month, police officers patrolled the famed stone staircase Wednesday to tell locals and visitors "Please, no sitting" on one of the Eternal City's most recognizable landmarks, the AP reports. The 137 steps built in the 1720s have long been a popular spot to people watch, hang out, and pause for a breath. Rome's official tourism website describes the steps as a passageway "but even more so a place for meeting and a pleasant rest." But as of July 8, sitting, eating, and drinking on them is illegal and can result in a fine of up to $450. The ordinance also applies to other photogenic sites in Rome, like the Trevi Fountain.

The city government said the law has been applied in full since its effective date, but it wasn't until this week that police officers in yellow vests were deployed to the Spanish Steps to visibly enforce it. The Spanish Steps were built by architect Francesco De Sanctis between 1723 and 1726. They connect the Piazza di Spagna below and the commanding Trinita dei Monti church high above. Rome's efforts to curb the unwelcome behavior of tourists and to protect pieces of history mirror actions in Italian cities like Venice and Florence, where respectively shirtless gondola rides and eating on church steps are banned. A German couple was fined $1,066 in Venice last month for making coffee near the famed Rialto Bridge.

(Read more Rome stories.)

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