Tourists In Rome Need To Know About These New Laws

Rome has had enough of bad tourist behavior and is cracking down with a profusion of new rules as well as the resurrection and enforcement of old ones. In the well policed city center, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site, you can expect a hefty fine if caught violating any of the new rules. And being that the police are everywhere and that tourists tend to hang out in the main tourist areas, the chances of you getting caught are huge.

Most of these new rules really are just a matter of being respectful and behaving with a sense of decency. Some of them are really annoying, because tourists behaving badly or disrespectfully have ruined things that had been hugely pleasurable for the rest of us for years.

Keep Your Shirt On

Men will be stopped and fined for walking around shirtless. Most tourists at least keep their tops on but you do on occasion see men walking around with their shirt off. Not any more! The average fine starts at 250 euro per violation.

In Venice they don’t allow women to walk around in swimwear, so shorts and a bikini top are a no-no. I’m not sure if Rome has this in place now too, if not it won’t be far behind.

Stay Out Of The Fountains In Rome

This summer the city has (finally) cracked down on tourists getting into the city’s many fountains.

tourists climbing into Rome's fountains

Yes, we get it, you’re hot. So is everyone else. The fountains of Rome are not your personal swimming pool, so don’t climb in. Not only will you be hauled out soaking wet in front of everyone you will also be fined up to 450 euros

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Stay Off The Monuments In Rome

Eating, drinking and climbing on monuments is now banned. Tourists eating sloppy food and dropping it all over the city monuments as well as leaving their food scraps and trash now means the rest of us can no longer sit on monument steps with a gelato, or with a drink in hand while taking in the view or watching street musicians.

image via Independent.uk

I am in 100% support of banning the badly behaved tourists, and I don’t want to have to clear up someone’s food detritus so that I can sit down, but I am also somewhat saddened by this rule.

No more evenings sitting on the steps of the fountain in Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere

There have been many nights sitting on the steps in Piazza Santa Maria Trastevere watching street performers, and just as many evenings sitting on the steps with the locals in Piazza Trilussa watching the musicians with a backdrop of the Sisto Bridge and the river, with a drink or a snack in hand. It has been part of life in Rome which for now anyway, is over.

Sunset in Rome’s Piazza Trilussa, watching the street music

One of the experiences I have loved in Piazza Trilussa over the past decade has been sitting on the stairs with local college kids and letting them practice their English on me while some dude with a guitar, a mic and an amp sings Pink Floyd songs. This is where I learned about Roman street foods such as suppli’ and tripizzini, staples for Roman college students, while they educated me on everything from local politics to current philosophy.

This is part of my aversion to American fast food chains even being in Rome let alone in the big tourist areas. McDonalds wrappers and food scraps do not belong anywhere near any monuments (or anywhere else in Rome!)

RELATED POST: WHY McDONALDS SHOULD BE BANNED AT PANTHEON IN ROME

As far as I’m concerned anyone climbing on or defacing the city’s monuments should be strung up and flogged.

No More Sitting On The Spanish Steps

One of the rules that will be hard to get used to is no longer being allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps. I have to preface this by saying that as a rule I avoid the area like the plague, only venturing in to go to the Nespresso store so the snooty sales assistants can be suitably rude while I stock up on coffee to bring home. (Why is it that Nespresso workers everywhere from Los Angeles to Barcelona to Rome are so rude??)

Rome’s Spanish Steps have become overcrowded. Although a shame not to be able to sit there anymore at least now you can see them.

There was something so iconic about sitting on the steps looking out over Rome, and many of my Glam Italia Tour travelers have really enjoyed that little photo op. But over the past few years it has become really overcrowded, full of vendors trying to sell you bottled water and selfie sticks, and has been pickpocket heaven, so has lost some of the magic.

travelers sitting on the iconic Spanish Steps in Rome. New laws now make this illegal, with fines up to 450 euros
Sitting on the iconic Spanish Steps in Rome is now illegal

If you are caught sitting on the steps the fine starts at 250 euros and goes up to 450 euros if you have dirtied or damaged them. Neon vested police officers now crisscross the steps all day and will be blowing whistles at you before your bum hits the deck.

No More Dragging Luggage Down Steps

This rule is long overdue. If you get caught bouncing your luggage, especially wheeled luggage, down any of the monument steps (most famously the Spanish Steps) in Rome you can expect a heavy fine.

Venice has already banned dragging luggage up and down stairs, now Rome is too.

I have always been stunned at how people can think it is ok to drag their over-packed suitcases down ancient stairs, be it inside an apartment building, a villa or public walkways. The lack of concern for potential damage they are causing is deplorable.

Buses and Public Transport Fines

Think twice before jumping on to a bus, tram or metro in Rome without a ticket. In July of this year the ATAC, Rome’s public transport company issued more than 17,000 tickets to fare dodgers.

Where formerly you didn’t really see too much of a presence, this year ticket inspectors are checking an average of 9,000 people per day. From January to July of this year (2019) they have checked more than 2 million passengers, resulting in more than 134,000 fines being issued.

RELATED POST: HOW TO USE THE TRAINS IN ITALY

Leave Your Padlocks Of Love At Home

If you are thinking about attaching a “love padlock” to any bridge or monument, anywhere in the world, for God’s sake just stop!

It is now outlawed in Rome, hopefully Paris will follow suit.

Here’s the deal: these centuries’ old bridges and iron grates were not built to withstand the weight of all these padlocks. Your one padlock may not seem like a big deal, but multiply it by hundreds and the equation changes. City workers have to cut the padlocks off (so it’s a waste of time anyway) but still the weight and the constant use of bolt cutters and steel cutters is damaging to something that will definitely outlast your love for Roger.

On top of that, would be romantics after attaching their padlock then toss the key over the bridge into the river below. Cities have to dredge the river beds to collect these stupid keys. The whole thing is ludicrous and incredibly damaging, and when you think about it is no less offensive and defacing than if you spray painted “I love Roger” on the wall. If you love him so much, padlock something at your own house.

Expect to get caught and expect a big fine.

No Lips On Water Fountains

Everywhere you go in Rome you will see Nasoni, the ever running water fountains that keep Romans and tourists hydrated. Fill your water bottle or cover the opening and drink the water that spouts out, but whatever you do don’t put your mouth on it!

How to use the Nasoni in Rome
The corrct way to use the nasoni in Rome

Firstly, come on – that’s gross. We all want to use the fountains and none of us want your mouth cooties. More than just being yucky behavior, it can be expensive too. New laws have made it illegal to put your mouth on the water fountain. Expect to get caught and expect to pay a fine of hundreds of euros.

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New laws in Rome are costing tourists hundreds of euros in fines

Why Rome Should Ban McDonalds At The Pantheon

Junk food giant McDonalds is trying (re)open a temple to processed meat at the place built 2000 years ago to be a temple to all Gods, and I for one am not happy about it.

The Pantheon in Rome was built 2000 years ago by emperor Hadrian.
The Pantheon was built 2000 years ago by Emperor Hadrian. It has been in constant use ever since.

Italy pioneered the slow food movement, a movement that is about real food, in season, not processed, as close to farm to table as possible, eaten at a table with friends and family. Basically the complete antithesis to the garbage that is McDonalds.

So the American junk franchise aggressively trying to push its way into the sites of ancient ruins is even more offensive than otherwise.

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No One Wins With McDonalds. Except McDonalds.

Although there’s a McDonalds on every street corner in America they are few and far between in Italy. The Fast food culture hasn’t really taken off in Italy, a country where meals are consumed sitting at a table be it at home or in a restaurant.

But McDonalds isn’t targeting Italians. Italy is one of the most touristed countries in the world, and McDonalds wants those tourists, so it is trying to worm its way into the big tourist sites. Just last week they got turned away from the Baths of Caracalla, this week they are trying to pollute the Pantheon.

The Piazza della Rotonda, home of the Pantheon has a variety of eating options, from artiginal gelato, to the most famous coffee shop in the world (Tazza d’Oro) to a variety of trattoria and restaurants. You can sit outside at a table with a view of the Pantheon and enjoy Italian food and culture. McDonalds wants to violate that, siphoning off Americans and Chinese and plowing their tourist dollars into junk-o-rama at the expense of the local businesses.

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Three Ways McDonalds Makes Rome Lose

There are multiple ways the city loses when McDonalds comes to town, but lets look at three of them:

* Local Business Suffers

Italians don’t really benefit too much from all these tourists. Beautiful, historical piazzas such as Piazza della Rotonda don’t charge an entry fee, you just walk in. The only way the city and the people make money is by tourists spending money in stores and at food establishments. Local business benefit from the influx of tourists sitting at their tables, eating their food.

Glam Italia Tour in Rome at the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda
June 2019, Glam Italia Tour at the Pantheon

If a percentage of those tourists are now getting Big Macs instead, those local businesses get hurt.

* The Trash!

American fast food chains generate an extraordinary amount of trash. Here in the states people walk around eating fast food and then (hopefully) dump the refuse into trash cans. Look around any American city and see how much fast food rubbish is littered around the streets. A McDonalds by the Pantheon is going to create trash around the Pantheon.

traash on the streets of Rome has become a crisis
Trash in Rome has reached crisis levels since the closure of the Malagrotta landfill a few years ago, then the fire at the Salario landfill last year.

It should also be noted that Rome already has a problem with trash collection and disposal. The city doesn’t need American food franchises adding to the volume and making it worse.

* The Extra Crowds

A McDonalds at the Pantheon will draw even more people into the area as tourists follow the signs to the golden arches. As tricky as it can be to take a photo of the Pantheon without tourists getting in the way, a McDonalds will make it worse.

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The Burden Of Extra Tourists In The Piazza

Bringing American tourists to a McDonalds at the Pantheon also brings more problems, for everyone – you and me included.

* PICKPOCKETS

Whether they are right or wrong, pick pockets think American tourists have the best and easiest stuff to steal. The average American tourist is likely to have more cash on them than the average European or Eastern European. The flash more jewelry, more overall bling, and as a result are pickpocket magnets.

If you were a pickpocket and didn’t want to hang out at the Trevi Fountain, a big American fast food chain would be the next best thing. Easy pickings from distracted tourists busy supersizing their orders and plowing through fries. I wouldn’t care about that – serves you right for eating there, but now you have drawn more pickpocketing to the area, and that impacts all of us.

* TERROR TARGETS

If you belong to some deranged sect and want to inflict harm on a large group and get your cause some internationally televised fame and attention, what better place to do it than one where Americans hang out? McDonalds, Starbucks, Subway – none of them should be in Italy, period. I tell all of my Glam Italia Tour travelers to stay the heck away from them and with the exception of two travelers, over the years have been successful.

Although I travel the world without fear of terror attacks, I do consciously avoid the areas around McDonalds and Co. While writing this I did a quick google search on terror attacks and McDonalds. It looks like over the years there have been plenty.

McDonalds had a junk food palace in the Piazza della Rotonda in the past but was run out of town back in 2011. Hopefully the powers that be will turn their backs on any kickbacks paying the chain’s way into the piazza. The reversal on permitting the proposed Baths of Caracalla McDonalds at least gives me some hope.

If you feel you need McDonalds to be part of your travel experience, maybe just stay home?

Do you want a bigger, more authentic experience in Rome, away from the tourist crowds but still in the heart of the city? My new book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps shows a different side of the Eternal City, with loads of options for incredible things to do without the crush of tourists! It is already a bestseller – get your copy today and see why!

Essential Rome: You Need To Know About Domus Transitoria

Are you heading to Rome anytime soon and want something new and cool to see? I just found out about a new ancient site that has recently re-opened that I absolutely have to visit, and maybe you will want to too!

Let’s Talk Nero…

Bust of Nero

I didn’t know too much about Nero until somewhat recently. I knew he was a madman and an emperor, but not much more. During a visit to his golden palace in Rome (you can read about it in the Underground Rome section of my new book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome, available on Amazon.com) I was asking my guide, an archaeologist from the site, some questions about him. She pulled me to the side and very emphatically told me Everything you know about Nero is wrong! I am down here with him every day. I know him! They have lied about him and I know the truth.

Which is why I say I didn’t know too much about him until then. It would appear the senate changed the stories of more than one emperor once he died, so maybe we will never know the full truth, but her urgency got me interested in Nero and I plan on tracking her down when I get back to Rome to get the next part of the story.

RELATED POST: 14 Fascinating Facts About Piazza Navona In Rome

Who Was Nero?

bust of Roman emperor nero
Nero

Nero was the last emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was born December 15 in 37 A.D and died June 9th in 68 A.D at the age of 30. He ruled the empire for 13 years and 8 months.

A Guy With Mommy Issues…

Nero’s mother, Agrippina the Younger was an interesting character. He was adopted by his great uncle Claudius and became the her and successor upon Claudius’ death. Agrippina is thought to have had a hand in the death of Claudius and in Nero’s nomination to be emperor. Apparently she dominated his early life and weighed heavily on all of his decisions a.k.a. controlling mother/stage mom. Five years into his reign he had her murdered.

… And A Guy With Many Wives

The story of Nero’s marriages is intriguing by itself. First he married his step sister Claudia Octavia, daughter of Emperor Claudius.

bust of Claudia octavia first wife of nero
Claudia Octavia

It was a very unhappy marriage (because he was nuts) and he tried to strangle her on more than one occasion. While married to her he had many affairs including one with Poppaea Sabina, the wife of his friend Ortho.

poppaea sabina was nero's 2nd wife
Poppaea Sabina

Poppaea divorced Ortho and became pregnant with Nero’s child, which in turn prompted Nero to divorce Claudia and banish her to Campania. The baby died at 4 months old.

Claudia complained about her banishment, so Nero had her maids tortured. The people of Rome like Claudia and marched in the streets to have her returned to them, which scared Nero so he not only had her brutally murdered but also had her head chopped off and sent to Poppaea.

Nero and Poppaea had a tumultuous relationship but it would seem that she was his favorite wife, even though he ended up killing her too. In the summer of 65 A.D Nero kicked a pregnant Poppaea in the belly, killing both her and the child. After her death he went into deep mourning.

Statilia Messaline was Nero's 3rd wife
Statilia Messalina

While married to Poppaea Sabina Nero had been having an affair with another married woman, Statilia Messalina. When Poppaea died in 65 A.D Statilia’s husband was forced to commit suicide so that Nero could marry her.

And then things got even crazier.

In sometime around 66 A.D-67 A.D Nero also married a young boy called Sporus, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Poppaea. Nero had Sporus castrated and paraded him around dressed in the clothing of a Roman Empress, and called him Lady, Empress, Mistress, and Poppaea. It is thought that he used his marriage to Sporus as a way to assuage his guilt for killing Poppaea.

Sporus was a boy nero had castrated and then married
Sporus

After Nero’s death Sporus was then taken on by Praetorian Guard Prefect Nymphilius Sabinus who treated him as a wife and also called him Poppaea. Nymphilius wound up getting killed by his guardsmen, and the story got even crazier when in 69 A.D Poppaea’s ex husband Ortho, who now became emperor albeit for only 3 months, then took up with Sporus!

Sporus ended up committing suicide to avoid being used as a victim in a gladiator show. He was probably not even 20 years old at the time.

But back to the wives of Nero, there was actually one more. Back in 64 A.D after a series of banquets during the Saturnalia Nero married one of his former slaves, a freedman named Pythagorus. Except this time Nero was the bride and Pythagorus the groom. Nero even wore a bridal veil! After the ceremony the witnesses had to watch the consummation of the marriage too.

RELATED POST: 7 Tips You Need To Know before Traveling To Rome

The Rule Of Nero

Nero’s time as emperor is generally associated with tyranny, compulsive behavior and extravagance. (As well as lunacy). Many historians believe he started the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D to clear the way for him to build his gigantic pleasure palace, the Domus Aurea. Apparently he blamed Christians for the fire and had them burned alive.

There are modern historians however who believe the ancient sources who wrote about Nero were unreliable. The archaeologist I went through Domus Aurea with is convinced that the history we know of Nero is in fact based on lies and hatred, not the truth.

The Domus Transitoria

Nero’s first palace, the Domus Tansitoria is now open to the public after a 10 year renovation.

Stairway down to nero's Domus Transitoria
The stairway down to Domus Transitoria

Transitoria was a lavish palace decorated with marble, inlaid marble, porphyry, mother of pearl, frescoes and mosaics, dating back to 54 A.D. It connected the Palatine Hill with the Esquiline Hill, which is how it got its name. It was built partially underground to help Nero beat the Roman heat.

RELATED POST: How To get Into Rome From Fiumicino Airport
Ceilings at Domus Transitoria
ceilings inside Domus Transitoria

Most of the Domus Transitoria was burned to the ground during the great fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The ruins were discovered, robbed and looted during the 18th century.

Frescoes in neros's first palace, the Domus Transitoria
2000 year old frescoes inside Domus Transitoria

What remained has been restored, so you can see the floors, frescoes and structure. One of the best preserved areas of the complex contains the 50 communal toilets thought to have been used by the slaves and workers, almost 2000 years ago.

Domus Transitoria

You can take a guided tour of Domus Transitoria, but the tours are for small groups only, around 12 total. There is new lighting down there, so you are not wandering in twilight. There is also a virtual reality component to the tour. This is something that Rome is doing so brilliantly, the multimedia and V.R. components to the newer tours are just sensational.

Nero's Domus Transitoria
RELATED POST: WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT PALAZZO VALENTINI IN ROME

Domus Transitoria is open Friday – Monday and is part of the new SUPER Foro-Palatino ticket. Check the website for more details and ticket options.

Bonus Content

Would you like to enjoy a cold prosecco with a mesmerizing view while in Rome? I have created a downloadable PDF of the Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. Each of these fabulous spots is right in the heart of the city and easy to get to, especially after a long day of sightseeing! Download your PDF here

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