Chicago tourism

US tourist fined $450 for eating and drinking on Rome’s Fontana dei Catecumeni, police say

An American visitor to Rome has been fined $450 ($450) for eating and drinking while sitting on the side of a fountain, under rules designed to maintain the city’s “decorum” in the face of overtourism.

The 55-year-old had chosen the edge of the Fontana dei Catecumeni to sit down for a snack on Saturday around 1 a.m. local time, local police told CNN.

Officers intervened as the man “intended to drink and eat on part of the fountain” in violation of rules to protect monumental fountains, police said.

The fountain was built in 1588-89 by architect and sculptor Giacomo della Porta and was restored in 1997.

It is protected by rules first introduced in the 1970s to safeguard fountains, statues and other historical monuments.

Updated rules emphasizing maintaining the city‘s “environmental decorum” have been in place since 2019.

Local police said in a statement they carried out more than 300 checks last weekend, with street patrols enforcing rules including limits on the volume of music played in bars.

The laws also include a ban on street drinking, pub crawls and bathing in city fountains.

The police can impose fines and even prohibit access to certain areas for up to 48 hours. Repeat offenders can be banned for up to 60 days.

When the ‘decorum’ rules were introduced, the city council said they were there ‘to deal with many aspects of city life, with particular attention to respecting the capital’s artistic and cultural heritage’.

They also aimed to address the symptoms of overtourism, which has become a buzzword in the Eternal City as it struggles to cope with the huge number of visitors. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Rome received around 10 million visitors each year.

There have been several recent incidents involving violations of the updated laws.

In May, Border Patrol apprehended a 37-year-old Saudi man at Milan International Airport after a rental Maserati was driven up Rome’s famous Spanish Steps and abandoned.

A month later, two American tourists were fined and briefly banned from downtown Rome after damaging the steps with electric scooters.

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