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The 8 Most Outrageous Things American Tourists Have Done in Italy

Don’t be that American.

There’s a trend percolating in Italy that goes deeper than the country’s love affair with espresso. American tourists are doing very strange things during their vacations, and the Italian government is not hesitating to slap them with financial penalties.

We’re talking fines in the hundreds and thousands. Some of these stunts are innocuous (like eating gelato at a fountain), while others are just plain stupid (driving a Ferrari into a piazza). Two recently introduced fines are “lingering too long” at a popular selfie-taking spot in Portofino and wearing flip-flops or sandals in Cinque Terre.

Is this a matter of Americans simply not showing respect to Italy? Or is Italy on a mission to collect hefty fines? We’ll let you decide. Here are eight instances where Americans were fined. To be clear, it’s not just Americans. Tourists from other countries are also being shamed, like this French man who tried to scoop up four pounds of white sand from a beach in Sardinia and was fined $1,200. But what is most definitely true is that Americans comprise most of these tourists who are making headlines.

1 OF 8

Eating Gelato on a Fountain in Rome

WHERE: Rome

In this gelato-focused city, who would come here and not order a scoop (every day, perhaps)? In addition to mulling over the myriad flavors, it’s apparently now important to consider where you’ll sit down and enjoy the gelato. In September of 2022, one 55-year-old American tourist ended up eating a very expensive gelato order at night on the Fontana dei Catecumeni, a fountain with a high ledge—being charged $455 because it’s not permissible after dark. In the tourist’s defense, the tape used to cordon off the area post-sunset had been removed. How would one know otherwise?

 

2 OF 8

Driving a Ferrari Into a Florence Piazza

WHERE: Florence

Sitting behind the wheel of a fancy sports car can make one feel powerful, but that does not mean you get to disobey driving laws. Most European piazzas are off-limits to cars and feature pedestrian-friendly areas to walk and congregate in a square design, often with water fountains or monuments. In March 2023, a 43-year-old American nutso decided he was not privy to the no-cars rule and zoomed his Ferrari Spider rental right onto the Piazza della Signoria, adjacent to the Uffizi Gallery, home to works by Botticelli, da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Michelangelo. The verdict? A $506 fine.

3 OF 8

Tossing Scooters Down the Spanish Steps in Rome

WHERE: Rome

Scooters are woven into Italy’s landscape, particularly in cities where it’s much easier to get around—and park—on two wheels instead of four. In June 2022, a 28-year-old female tourist and a 29-year-old male tourist—both American—threw a rental scooter down the Spanish Steps, which are crafted from 18th-century marble and were fresh off a major restoration in 2015. In addition to being fined $440 each, they were banned from ever returning to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the Italian government, this act of recklessness sadly caused $27,463 in damages.

4 OF 8

Skinny Dipping in Venice’s Canals

WHERE: Venice

It can definitely get hot in Italy, and relief in the form of air-conditioning is nearly non-existent. But that does not mean Venice’s canals are a public swimming pool. They’re actually dirty and full of local sewage. In May 2022, an American couple stripped down—all the wayand dove into Venice’s canals, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the Castello residential district. While the extent of their fines is unknown, two Czech travelers were slapped with a $3,320 fine in 2019 for a similar offense.

5 OF 8

Driving Across Ponte Vecchio in Florence

WHERE: Florence

If you’re driving a car and you don’t notice other cars around you, that’s probably a sign you’re in the wrong place. In January 2023, a 34-year-old man from California drove his Fiat Panda rental car across Ponte Vecchio, which was built in 1345 and is the city’s only bridge to survive the wars. It’s only open to pedestrians. Apparently, he was so focused on looking for a parking spot he didn’t realize he’d crossed a bridge. Even if he intended to grab a sweet parking spot, it likely doesn’t matter due to the $540 fine—and the public humiliation.

6 OF 8

Breaking Into the Colosseum in Rome

WHERE: Rome

Like many landmarks around the world, the Colosseum is not open 24/7. Current operating hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In November 2021, two Americans in their mid-20s sauntered in after-hours like they owned the place—literally breaking into this architectural marvel—and cracked open some beers. While they didn’t cause damage, the entry was still deemed illegal. It turned out to be a costly bar tab, as they were fined $885 for this late-night adventure.

7 OF 8

Throwing Sculptures at the Vatican

WHERE: Rome

Anyone who’s spent five minutes in a museum knows this is precious, valuable stuff. Hold onto your bags and keep steady. In October 2022, an American man threw down two 2,000-year-old Roman busts in the museum’s Museo Chiaramonti. And his vacation suddenly became very expensive and tedious. The source of his anger? He wanted to see the Pope. For one, the marble bases were damaged, and the estimated cost was about $16,500. Not sure if he ever got that meeting with the Pope.

8 OF 8

Carving One’s Initials Into the Colosseum

WHERE: Rome

This is way worse than sipping a beer after hours at this Rome marvel. In 2015, two twenty-something California women were cited for carving their initials into a brick wall at the Colosseum, which dates back to the first century A.D. Their stupidity didn’t stop there: they snapped a selfie of their “artwork” for all to see.

6 Comments
Avatar for tep1955
tep1955 June 9, 2023

Don't use a paintbrush. There are far more better American's than the likes of these stupid fools you mention in your examples. 

J
Janeymunds May 27, 2023

Stay out of politics!

Avatar for Rasputin1
Rasputin1 May 25, 2023

The Ugly American is well truly alive all around the world.  They are usually the most noisy and pushy of all nationalities.  Money talks they think.  The fashionistas, selfie-takers, Influencers (so they think) and self indulgent are all Americans.  The fines meted out are insignificant to stop others doing the same thing.  They should have had the book thrown at them and made to pay the whole cost of the damage.