23 ways you could get into trouble as a tourist in Italy

It can be hard to stay afloat of Italy's wave of bans on visitor-related misbehaviour. From snacking on the street in Florence to riding a bike in Venice's city centre, there are specific everyday activities that could see you slapped with a fine of up to €500 ($550) or Daspo (temporary ban). 

Italy tourist rules
You can admire the beauty of Italy's fountains but you can't jump in ©muratart/Shutterstock

Italian authorities have introduced a slew of new rules aimed at curbing unacceptable behaviour, many of which are in response to issues associated with overtourism. Some have been introduced with a zero-tolerance approach. Such as an incident in July when two German tourists were fined €950 ($1058) and immediately asked to leave the city after they were found making coffee on a portable stove beneath Rialto Bridge. Officials confirmed that this was the 40th time since May that visitors have been ordered to leave town for breaching the rules. 

‘'Venice must be respected,” mayor Luigi Brugnaro said at the time, “and bad-mannered people who think they can come here and do what they want must understand that, thanks to local police, they will be caught, punished and expelled." 

Introducing Italy

It's not just Venice taking firm action. Two French tourists were caught allegedly taking sand from a beach in Sardinia last year and could face up to six years in prison. In Rome, police have been encouraging lounging tourists to move from the Spanish Steps as sitting on them is now subject to a fine of about €400 ($450). And it was recently announced that a protective barrier could be installed around the Trevi Fountain to prevent bad behaviour and preserve the monument. 

If you're planning a trip to Italy and don't want to be that person who could cause offence (or worse, commit an offence), simply respecting the country and its citizens should be enough to keep you out of trouble. That said, even the most well-intentioned visitor might slip up from time to time. With that in mind, here's a quick brief at what not to do on your next visit to Italy:

1. Purchase unauthorised tours from touts in any city.

2. Purchase "skip-the-line" tours outside historic monuments in Rome such as the Vatican.

3. Join organised pub crawls in Rome.

5. Sit or lay down in front of shops, historic monuments and bridges. You'll more than likely be moved on.

6. Eat on the streets of Florence's historic centre – Via de' Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna - from noon to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm daily.

7. Drag pushchairs or wheeled suitcases up the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Italy tourist rules
You can no longer linger on the Spanish Steps ©Geoff Stringer/Lonely Planet

8. Jump into fountains or otherwise damage or climb on them.

9. Set up picnics in public spaces or pause too long on bridges in Venice.

10. Ride bikes in Venice city centre.

11. Drink alcohol on the street between 8pm and 8am in Venice.

12. Busk on public transport in Rome.

13. Attach lovelocks to bridges in Rome and Venice.

14. Take part in group celebrations such as hen and stag parties outdoors during weeknights in Venice. They're only permitted outdoors during the day or at weekends. 

Italy tourist rules
Rome has decreed that when drinking from public fountains you are not allowed to let your lips touch the spout ©Getty

15. Let your mouth touch the spout of Rome's public drinking fountains, known as nasoni. Instead cup your hands under the spout of place your finger under the stream to direct an arc of water to your mouth like the Romans do.

16. Drink alcohol out of glass containers on public streets, public transit and in non-enclosed green spaces in Rome after 10pm. Or drink alcohol out of any container after midnight in these spaces.

17. Dress up as a historical figure or character like a "centurion" (gladiator) in Rome and pose for photos with tourists. 

18. Walk around shirtless or in your swimwear in any metropolitan area. This state of dress is strictly restricted to the beach or lido.

20. Swim in the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. You can visit by boat but swimming in the grotto is strictly forbidden, just ask supermodel Heidi Klum who was fined €6000 ($6696) for taking a dip in the waters this summer.

21. Steal sand from the beaches of Sardinia (or any beach for that matter). You could face up to six years in prison.

22. Feed the birds in San Marco Square in Venice.

23. Get too close to the Trevi Fountain, city officials in Rome are considering installing protective barriers around the historic monument.

This article was first published on 26 August, 2019 and updated on 17 February, 2020.

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Visitors forced to leave Venice for breaking new tourist rules

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Everything you need to know about Rome's new rules and how they could affect your next trip

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