Badly behaving tourists are back: Pair fined for $40k damage to Rome's Spanish Steps

Quite like a Neanderthal landing smack bang in the middle of New York's Times Square, I suppose this sort of thing could have been expected.

No sooner have the borders opened and planes begin criss-crossing the city skies again, we see the headlines and aggravated locals – the misbehaving, obnoxious foreign tourist is back! Oh dear.

It's not exactly easy advocating for the benefits of tourism, long-haul travel and cultural exchange when some of the first bumbag-wearing tourists back to Italy think it's totally fine to fling an electric scooter down the Spanish Steps, but that's what some American arrivals did to fill the time in Rome recently.

Sanctions include fines, as well as the individual being banned from areas for up to 48 hours, known as the application of the "Daspo Urbano".

Content to confirm every stereotype about Yanks On Tour, the two tourists launched the chunky scooters three times down the steps. Yes, it was such a 'lol' they did it again and again.

The twentysomethings were banned from the ancient city centre and each fined €400 ($A610), though that is small change compared to the €25,000 ($A38,149) restoration fee for damage done to the marble.

The cost isn't really the point though, is it? Why would you include a city so steeped in history (and notoriously strict on tourist misbehaviour) if you're looking to deface the very things that make it great?

It wasn't even the first time the tourist site had been damaged since Italy dropped COVID entry rules for many tourists. Less than a month before this, a Saudi gent was arrested for allegedly driving a rented Maserati down the 18th-century steps.

Later that week some German tourists in Venice were fined a total of €4000 for setting up a picnic – complete with tablecloth and wine glasses, bless – on top of an 18th century wellhead. Even in central Venice, that turned out to be a costly lunch.


Only a few months back a couple of (American) tourists were fined €800 for sneaking into the Colosseum to have their own private happy hour, and this week more were fined for having a midnight dip in the Trevi fountain.

While some of these are fairly victimless and others seem harmless, it smacks of disrespect. With behaviour like this, it doesn't take much for anti-tourist sentiment to creep back into the news, even though only a few months back destinations were crying out for guests and their foreign currency.

Do we need more episodes of Banged Up Abroad or scare stories about Schapelle Corby to scare people into behaving when overseas?

The general rule, I would say, is: don't be an egg.

Remember, in the halcyon days of mass tourism in New Zealand when the country was plagued by that awful UK family in the minivan? Don't be like them. Read ahead. Plan better. Recognise that you might want to blow off steam, but you're also visiting peoples' homes, workplaces and favourite public spaces. Learn about local history and customs and weird cultural quirks and, you know, the law.

It's all summed up by the clichéd phrase: When in Rome, do as the Romans do and don't throw your scooter down the Spanish Steps.

See also: Tourists to be fined for sitting on Rome's famous Spanish Steps

See also: Backpackers fined, kicked out of Venice over morning coffee