Don’t go in the water – that’s the message from Italian officials grown sick and tired of misbehaving tourists turning Rome’s fountains and monuments into wading pools and eyesores.
The mayor of Rome has ushered in a permanent get-tough approach on boorish behaviour and those Romans who exploit them.
Exasperated by tourists who frolic in Rome’s public fountains, vandalise its monuments and treat its landmarks as their own personal living rooms, the city famous for its artistic heritage and easy-going lifestyle has had enough.
The Italian capital’s first populist mayor, Virginia Raggi, presented a law banning bad behaviour, including eating or drinking or climbing on monuments, walking around partially unclothed and wading through fountains.
Frolicking in fountains was made famous by Anita Ekberg, who danced in the city’s magnificent baroque Trevi Fountain in Federico Fellini’s classic film immortalising Rome’s carefree spirit.
While many of the measures already existed in temporary form or were rarely enforced, a unanimous city council vote on Thursday made them permanent.
Disobeying these rules means local authorities can exile the badly behaved from the city’s historic centre for 48 hours.
“Rome city centre is an area protected by Unesco , so clearly our centre is our business ticket,” Ms Raggi said in an interview in which she promised “zero tolerance for those marring our city”.
Rome’s law joins a raft of efforts by tourist-clogged cities around the world to regulate their behaviour or limit their numbers.
Florence last year called for fines as high as 500 euros (APS445) for visitors who eat on pavements or in doorways at meal times near its landmark Uffizi Galleries.
Venice in the past has banned tourists from eating in St Mark’s Square unless they eating or drinking at the square’s expensive cafes.
In France, the Louvre Museum in Paris closed for a day after workers said the crowds were too big to handle. In Amsterdam, the city plans to ban guided tours of the red-light district.
Ms Raggi, the highest profile mayor for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, boasted that for the first time since 1946, Rome had an “all-encompassing law” ending decades of “temporary rules”.
“We don’t want people to take a bath, or ruin or dirty monuments any more,” she said from a terrace above her Capitoline Hill office overlooking the ancient Roman forum and Colosseum and their steady streams of tourists.
Earlier in the day, she told reporters she has started writing to foreign ambassadors whose citizens had been caught behaving badly.
On Friday, police could be seen telling tourists near the Spanish Steps to put their shoes back on and stop drinking beer.
But the city faces an uphill battle. On the grand staircase that leads to the Michelangelo-designed square outside City Hall, tourists nibbled on snacks, chugged down beer and fed seagulls as a traffic officer strolled by at the bottom of the stairs.