Italy plans hefty fines for vandalism to monuments, cultural sites


(LONDON) — Italy’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to fine vandals who damage monuments or other cultural sites up to 60,000 euros (about $65,000).

The legislation, championed by Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, was proposed following a string of vandalism by environmental activists across the European nation. Earlier this month, activists protesting fossil fuels dyed the water black in Rome’s iconic Barracia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

“The attacks on monuments and artistic sites produce economic damage to all,” Sangiuliano said in a statement on Tuesday. “To clean it up, the intervention of highly specialized personnel and the use of very costly machines are needed.”

“Whoever carries out these acts must assume also the financial responsibility,” he added.

The fines would range from 10,000 to 60,000 euros (about $11,000 to $65,000) and would help with repairs and clean-up. Offenders could also face criminal charges.

Vandalism by environmental activists to the facade of Palazzo Madama, a 15th-century palace that houses the Italian Senate, recently cost the government 40,000 euros (nearly $44,000) to repair, according to Sangiuliano.

Last year, an American tourist caused 25,000 euros (about $27,000) worth of damage to Rome’s Spanish Steps after throwing an electric bicycle down the 18th century stairway. That incident came just weeks after a Saudi tourist drove a Maserati down the 138 steps, causing an estimated 50,000 euros ($54,649) worth of damage.

The bill swung into law following the Cabinet’s approval on Tuesday but will expire if it is not adopted by Parliament within 60 days. Premier Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government holds a majority and is expected to pass the legislation.

Italy joins a host of other European countries and cities that have imposed similar measures to deter badly behaving tourists. The Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, has introduced several new regulations this year as part of its “stay away” campaign, including the early closure of bars and restaurants as well as a ban on cannabis in its famous red light district.

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