Did you know that sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome is a no-no? And walking around any Italian metropolitan area in your beachwear could get you fined?
Now new legislation, introduced in early April, will see visitors fined up to €275 if they are found lingering too long in so-called “red zones” in the glamorous coastal resort of Portofino during the high season.
The town’s mayor, Matteo Viacava, said the rule is necessary to prevent people from blocking traffic as they stop to take photos or pose for selfies in the much-photographed pizzetta (main square). “We want to avoid dangerous situations caused by overcrowding,” he told The Times, adding that the new rule will “allow everyone to enjoy our beauty.”
This latest measure is part of a slew of rules that authorities have introduced in recent years that aim to tackle issues associated with overtourism. From sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome to visiting Venice for a day without pre-booking and paying an entry fee, specific everyday activities could see you hit with a fine of up to €1000 ($1022) or a Daspo (temporary ban from the area).
Some have been presented with a zero-tolerance approach. Such as an incident pre-pandemic when two German tourists were fined €950 ($1058) and immediately asked to leave the city after they were found making coffee on a portable stove beneath Rialto Bridge.
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“Venice must be respected,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said at the time, “and bad-mannered people who think they can come here and do what they want must understand that thanks to local police, they will be caught, punished and expelled.”
Last year, the mayor of Sorrento said that fines would be imposed on people wearing swimsuits and bikinis or walking around bare-chested in the town. “No more with the indecent behavior,” he said, confirming fines would range from €25 ($26) to €500 ($511).
Italy has long depended on mass tourism to keep its economy afloat. Still, like many popular destinations that are becoming overwhelmed with visitors as travel demand soars, authorities are emphasizing the need to rethink how visitors interact with Italy’s heritage and infrastructure. Tourists are welcome but not to the detriment of residents’ quality of life and mobility.
If you’re planning a trip to Italy and don’t want to be that person who could offend (or worse, commit an offense), simply respecting the country and its citizens should be enough to keep you out of trouble. That said, even the most well-intentioned visitor might slip up from time to time. With that in mind, here’s a quick brief on what not to do on your next visit to Italy’s top tourist destinations:
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1. Take a photo inside the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.
2. Sit down on the Spanish Steps.
3. In fact, don’t sit or lay down in front of shops, historical monuments and bridges. You’ll more than likely be moved on.
4. Drag pushchairs, scooters or wheeled suitcases up the Spanish Steps in Rome.
5. Eat or drink at famous sites in any city.
6. Eat on the streets of Florence’s historic center – Via de’ Neri, Piazzale Degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via Della Ninna – from noon to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm daily.
7. Feed the birds in Piazza San Marco in Venice.
8. Wade in the Trevi Fountain. The activity is banned and you could risk a hefty fine.
9. Or, stand too close to the Trevi Fountain; city officials in Rome have been considering installing protective barriers around the historical monument for years. Even though they’re not in place yet, it’s a safe bet to act like they are.
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10. Visit Venice for the day without pre-booking and paying an entry fee soon. The tax for day trippers – long-mooted – has been delayed but is likely to be introduced later this year.
11. Dive, swim or bathe in Venice’s canals.
12. Fly a drone in an urban area without a license or a permit.
13. Set up picnics in public spaces in Venice or pause on the city’s bridges for too long.
14. Join organized pub crawls in Rome. They’re banned.
15. Jump into fountains anywhere or otherwise damage or climb on them.
16. Busk on public transport in Rome.
17. Ride bikes in Venice city center.
18. Drink alcohol on the street between 8pm and 8am in Venice.
19. Attach lovelocks to bridges in Rome and Venice.
20. Take part in group celebrations such as hen and stag parties outdoors during weeknights in Venice. They’re only permitted outdoors during the day or at weekends.
21. Let your mouth touch the spout of Rome’s public drinking fountains, known as nasoni. Instead, cup your hands under the spout of the tap and place your finger under the stream to direct an arc of water to your mouth.
22. Drink alcohol from glass containers on public streets, public transit and in non-enclosed green spaces in Rome after 10pm. Or drink alcohol out of any container after midnight in these spaces.
23. Dress up as a historical figure or character like a “centurion” (gladiator) in Rome and pose for photos.
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24. Walk around shirtless or in your swimwear in any metropolitan area. This state of dress is strictly restricted to the beach or lido. This is especially true in Sorrento, where you could be fined up to €500 for breaching the dress code.
25. Wear sandals or flip-flops while hiking in Cinque Terre.
26. Walk around barefoot in Praia a Mare.
27. Swim in the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. You can visit by boat, but swimming in the grotto is strictly forbidden; ask supermodel Heidi Klum who was fined €6000 in 2019 for taking a dip in the waters.
28. Steal sand from the beaches of Sardinia (or any beach for that matter). You could face up to six years in prison.
29. Forget to bring euros with you when visiting the beach. Some charge cover fees and most charge for the use of sun umbrellas and loungers.
30. Linger too long in certain restricted zones in the cobblestoned main square of Portofino (there’ll be signs to show you what zones are off-limits) between now and October 15, from morning until 6pm. If caught, you could be fined up to €250 ($275).
31. Build sandcastles on the beach in Eraclea, near Venice. It’s illegal, with authorities claiming they “obstruct the passage.”