What Italians want tourists to stop doing

Italy is a place associated with good food, easy living and carefree summers, isn’t it?

According to New Zealand Heraldnot so.

Today you are more likely to return from a trip to the Mediterranean with parking fines and harsh words from il Carabinieri that you are a tan and fond memories of Amalfi.

This slow pursuit of La Dolce Vita is finite.

The national characteristic of ‘Spreazzatura’ might be the closest kindred spirit to our own ‘She will be right’. It’s about never being too restless, never taking anything too seriously – rules, appearances, and especially yourself.

But this summer, Italy lost its cool.

Sorrento last month began fining tourists €500 (A$728) for walking the streets in bikinis. It’s not the only place where a pragmatic approach to tourism is taken.

Taking a seat on the Spanish Steps in Rome could net you a €400 (A$582) fine.

Come to think of it, it’s not even just this summer.

In 2019, two German tourists were kicked out of Venice and hit with a €950 (AU$1,382) charge for boiling espresso on the stove next to the famous Rialto Bridge.

According to thelocal.it, they were just two of 40 people deported that year under the city’s prohibition laws.

“Venice should be treated with respect and rude people who come here and think they can do whatever they want should understand that through the local police they can be arrested, fined and deported,” said said the mayor of the city, Luigi Brugnaro.

Venice lawmakers say their rules were designed to help the city’s 55,000 residents control their 30 million visitors.

It’s a fiasco. However, you can’t help but think that arbitrary fines for tourists have become part of the culture and experience of visiting the country.

Here are eight and a half ways to get into trouble as a tourist. When in Rome… do none of this:

1. Rest in the Spanish Steps or drag your suitcases to the square

Rome keeps its marble steps pristine and free from human clutter. You can imagine the shock when a disoriented tourist drove his rental car down the stairs earlier this year.

2. Take a photo in the Sistine Chapel

Although that hasn’t stopped Russell Crowe from sharing some photos from a recent Vatican

City trip, to the chagrin of some Italians.

3. Eating in public

Many cities don’t like visitors stopping to eat on trails, roads and doorways. For example, downtown Florence has banned street eating between noon-3 p.m. and 6-10 p.m.

4. Swim in the Trevi Fountain

You are not Anita Ekberg, sit down. Ever since Fellini’s 1960 drama La Dolce Vita depicted the blonde bombshell bathing in the Roman fountain, visitors have felt the urge to strip down and go for a swim. It will cost more than your dignity. The last tourist to swim was charged €450 (A$655).

5. Meet in Venice unannounced

From next year, the city of canals will charge visitors an excursion tax. Forgetful travelers who don’t pay the €10 peak toll face criminal prosecution and penalties of up to €300 (AU$437).

6. Impersonate a Gladiator

Keep your cosplay in the closet. Rome’s ancient amphitheater, the Colosseum, had a big problem with unlicensed street performers dressed as gladiators.

There have even been reports of organized crime networks pressuring tourists to pay for photos with them. In 2017, the practice was banned, with Carabinieri cracking down on centurions, charging them €400 ($A582) and seizing their costumes.

7. Wear topless or forget proper shoes on the beach

This summer, the Amalfi Coast began to crack down on tourists walking around their towns just swimming.

Further north, on the cliffside walks of the Cinque Terre, local authorities have started to issue fines to hikers who set off with jandals or inappropriate footwear. Depending on the inconvenience to locals, you could pay between €50 and €2000 (A$73 – $2911) in fines.

8. Grab sand or build sandcastles

Sardinia has a problem with souvenir hunters. The islands began charging those who were caught taking sand or shells from beaches.

In Eraclea, near Venice, they had the opposite problem. The ostentatious sand sculptures or Castelli di Sabbia have become such a problem that the local council has banned the construction of sand castles.

8½. Fines for fraud

To charge a poor sap who has just bought an imitation Gucci handbag is to add insult to injury.

To curb the black market for fake designer items, in 2018 Italy banned the purchase of counterfeit products.

While ignorance is no excuse, Italy might be the only place a tourist can be fined for someone else’s crime.

This story originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and is republished here with permission

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