An American tourist has caused $26,000 worth of damage after hurling an e-scooter down Rome’s historic Spanish Steps.
The incident, which occurred at around 3:45am Friday, was filmed by a passerby, with the footage subsequently going viral after being published by several Italian news sites Tuesday.
The footage shows the unidentified woman, who Italian authorities said was a US tourist aged 28, hurling the rented e-scooter down the steps in a fit of apparent rage.
Cops eventually caught up with the 28-year-old, as well as an also unidentified male companion, who is seen in the footage recklessly wheeling his own scooter down the storied stairs, featured in the Aubrey Hepbrun-led 1953 classic Roman Holiday.
The pair were reportedly then fined $430 by police who viewed further security footage of the incident, which saw the woman inexplicably launch the rented vehicle down the steps. Police said the man was also an American, aged 29.
The Spanish Steps serve as one of the most guarded tourist sites in the Italian capital, with police prohibiting people from sitting on them back in 2018.
Cops said Tuesday the damage sustained to the famous marble stairway as a result of the woman’s actions will cost at least $26,000 to repair.
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An American tourist has caused $26,000 worth of damage after hurling an e-scooter down Rome’s historic Spanish Steps
The 28-year-old and her male companion, 29, were fined by police after footage showed her deciding to launch the rented vehicle down the 18th century Unesco World Heritage Site
The city has since seen an influx of poorly behaved tourists at the steps – an 18th century Unesco World Heritage Site – and other attractions around the ancient city, as restrictions implemented during the pandemic are lifted.
On Friday, the unidentified passerby saw the woman struggling down the stairs with the scooter, and proceeded to take out her phone to film what would then ensue.
At one point in the recording, instead of carrying the scooter down the flight of stairs, the woman pushes the vehicle – a popular means of transport for visiting tourists – and watches it tumble, crashing into stone that police said had been recently refurbished.
The woman then reportedly hurled the scooter twice more after the clip ends, ‘for sheer amusement,’ Italian outlet La Repubblica reported.
According to the paper, the brazen maneuver caused some of the marble steps to crack.
The pair are now banned from ever returning to the famous monument, which underwent a $1.5million restoration project in 2015, financed by upmarket jeweler Bulgari, according to local authorities.
Cops then allowed the couple to return to their hotel, after confiscating the scooters, Corriere Della Sera further reported.
Police said security camera footage taken from the scene helped cops locate the pair. Lawmen did not release either of the offenders’ names.
It came only weeks after a Saudi businessman, 37, drove a Maserati down the Spanish Steps after ‘taking a wrong turn’.
The tourist told Corriere della Sera: ‘Yes, it was me who drove the car down the Spanish Steps. But I just took a wrong turn.’
The Steps, an iconic, curved stairway comprised entirely of marble and designed by architect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1726, is dominated by the Trinita dei Monti church, seen at the top. The Spanish Embassy is also located at the top, lending the site its name
The storied stairs, designed by architect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1726, were featured in the Aubrey Hepbrun-led 1953 Rome-set classic Roman Holiday, which also starred Gregory Peck (at right)
He added he did not think it was ‘so serious’ after driving down the famous site.
The businessman had been on his way home with a Romanian woman he had met in a nightclub when he drove down the steps, then tried to reverse back up them.
He was forced to call a tow truck before a passerby helped him get the car back on the road.
He was also tracked down by Italian authorities, to the nearby Milan airport, where he was arrested.
The unnamed Saudi national blamed the incident on his GPS device, which he said sent him down the wrong street. He was charged an unspecified sum for damaging the monument and also agreed to pay for its repair.
The Steps, designed by architect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1726 and dominated by the Trinita dei Monti church at the top, are a UNESCO site – an area of particular interest given legal protection by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Spanish Embassy is also located at the top of the stairs, lending the site its name.
The stairway underwent a restoration between 2015 and 2016, spurring city officials to enact stricter restrictions on tourists visiting the site, such as barring the consumption of food and drink near the iconic, curved stairwell.
The incident comes as tourist numbers in the Italian capital have returned to normal following restrictions spurred by the pandemic, with crowds now converging at the city’s cultural landmarks – but flouting rules of decorum.
In April, two Dutch visitors were fined more than $1,000 for stepping into the city’s Trevi fountain – a common occurrence prior to the pandemic.
The pair are banned from ever returning to the famous monument, which police say underwent a $1.5million restoration project in 2015
Venice has also seen itself become a popular target for ostentatious visitors, spurring police last summer to renew a crackdown on the tourists, saying their return has sparked ‘signs of urban degradation.’
Among those fined was a French tourist who boated along the iconic Grand Canal on a stand-up paddleboard, a practice that had been outlawed in 2018, and two German women who sunbathed in bikinis by San Stae church.
The pair were handed a fine of €250 – just under $300 – for the infraction.
Italian authorities have yet to comment further on Friday’s incident.
What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
A World Heritage Site is an area of particular interest which is given legal protection by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The sites must have cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance and be of ‘outstanding value to humanity’.
The sites can be man-made or natural with 1,154 currently around the world, of which Italy has the most with 58.
Examples include the Taj Majal, Machu Picchu, Serengeti National Park and Stonehenge.