American Tourist Fined $455 for Eating Gelato, Drinking Beer on Steps of Roman Fountain

The fine came as local authorities try to crack down on "decorum" in the Italian capital.

Fontana dei Catecumeni in Piazza della Madonna dei Monti
Photo: Vito Arcomano / Alamy Stock Photo

An American tourist in Italy learned an expensive lesson this month: Be careful where you choose to sit to eat your gelato… though the fact that it was after midnight and he was also drinking a beer probably didn't help.

The 55-year-old tourist was issued a €450 fine (about $455 at the current exchange rate) for sitting on the steps of the Fontana dei Catecumeni in Rome on September 3, according to The Guardian. During the day, the fountain is a popular tourist attraction, but at some point in the evening, it had reportedly been cordoned off to prevent anyone from sitting in the area; however, the tape had apparently been removed, leaving the clueless American wondering why the police were citing him for breaking what are known as the city's "urban decorum" rules.

"I didn't know the rules, I didn't know I couldn't sit down. I didn't understand what you were saying to me," the tourist stated, according to The Drinks Business. Even in Italy, ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law, but the man may have been his own worst enemy. Reports stated that he ignored initial warnings from police to move before being issued the fine. He was also reportedly double-fisting his Italian ice cream with a beer and was out past most people's bedtime at nearly 1 a.m.

CNN reports that this American wasn't singled out: Local police told the news site they carried out more than 300 "decorum" checks over the same weekend, looking to enforce the laws that were updated in 2019 in part to deal with unruly tourists. And despite the fine, Roman authorities may have actually taken it a bit easy on the man: Apparently, police can also choose to ban people from certain areas for up to 48 hours for not following the rules.

Good luck enjoying the beauty of the fountain after that!

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