Saudi tourist sped down Rome’s Spanish Steps in Maserati
The Spanish Steps are one of the most famous sights in Rome. A Saudi tourist apparently didn’t fully understand their purpose – and attempted to cross them in his rented Maserati. That should now cost him dearly.
The Spanish Steps are one of the absolute tourist magnets in the Italian capital Rome. And not just because the staircase, completed in 1725, is an impressive sight with its 135 steps. When it got dark earlier in the summer, groups of young people cavorted there, and the stairs became an open-air event. In order to protect the stairs, however, this was banned in 2019. It should have been much less damaging than what happened there on Tuesday evening: a Maserati had driven down the famous steps.
The events were recorded on video recordings by the Roman police. The car first curves around the bollards that separate the square above the stairs from the street. Then the sports car rumbles down the side steps. He stops in the middle. And a man gets out to assess the damage to the car.
Arrested at the airport
According to the police, the driver is a 37-year-old tourist from Saudi Arabia. However, he had not reported after the action: the license plate was used to identify the car rental company and then quickly the renter. He was arrested at the airport while trying to leave the country.
He is said to have admitted the incident to the police, reports “La Repubblica”. But it is said to have been an accident. He took a wrong turn. “I didn’t think it was something that serious. I didn’t do it on purpose, it was a mistake,” he is said to have told the officials angrily. “I’ll pay for the damage if one occurs.”
The driver did not reveal why he had not reported himself to the police. According to witnesses, after getting stuck, he tried to reverse the steps back up. With the help of a few passers-by, he is said to have made the ascent and then driven away.
“Stato della Città del Vaticano”, Vatican City State, is the official name of the 44-hectare territory on the western bank of the Tiber. It is the smallest country in the world with around 600 citizens, including cardinals, Curia staff, Swiss Guards and their families. If any couple – mostly members of the Guard – are expecting a child in the Vatican at all, it must be born outside the country. It can obtain citizenship, but loses it at the latest by the age of 25 (men) or upon marriage (women). The following applies to everyone else: anyone who no longer works for the Vatican must return their passport to the papal state.
Now the action could be expensive. The tourist is accused of serious damage to a monument. According to the police, two of the marble steps had broken and they had now been repaired in order to be able to open the stairs to the public again as quickly as possible. After that, a professional repair is due, which could become very expensive due to the purchase of high-quality materials that are as true to the original as possible, the police said. The Spanish Steps were last restored in 2015. The cost was 1.5 million euros.
Incidentally, it was not the first car ride on the stairs: A car that had gone off the road had landed on the stairs in 2018, and in 2007 a drunk dared to drive the car onto the stairs.