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 frustration.
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 Hepburn-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.
Authorities said the scooter cracked the monument’s 16th and 29th steps, while also chipping other sections of the storied staircase.
Italian media outlets also reported that one of the scooters had broken off a four-inch portion of one of the steps.
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 begin to be 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.’
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 went on to blame 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.
A few days earlier, a 39-year-old Argentinian was accused of breaking a strict flight ban after crashing a drone into the roof of the prominent Leaning Tower of Pisa, located in central Rome.
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 also 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.
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.