Written by Liam Clune

Breathing in the warm Florentine air, you walk hand in hand with your partner. A stylish bag holds a slice of wonderful pizza and your love holds a large pot of gelato. As the sun fades, you sit together in the shadow of the gorgeous Gallerie degli Uffizi and eat, fiercely aware that this is a time and place that you will remember forever. Until an officer of the Polizia walks up and issues you each a fine for €500…

This may seem like the plot from a TV sitcom, but a number of recent changes to local laws in Italy mean that an unprepared tourist could find themselves in a lot of trouble.

A number of new laws have been brought in by Italian authorities, designed to help reduce the damage caused by over-tourism and “unacceptable behaviour”.

Adding to the risk for the unwary is the often unexpected severity with which the new laws are being enforced. In June, a Canadian tourist was fined €250 for sunbathing in a bikini in Venice's Giardini Papadopoli. In July, also in Venice, two German tourists were fined €950 and expelled from the city after police arrested them for making coffee on a portable stove beneath the Rialto Bridge.

This is not a matter of 1 or 2 strict local laws either. Two French tourists were caught allegedly taking sand from a beach in Sardinia this month and could face up to six years in prison. And 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.

While such laws may seem harsh, rising levels of tourism are causing real problems for locals in Italy’s most popular destinations. Venetian officals have had to expel 40 tourists this summer alone for behaviour illegal under the new laws.

“But what can I do to prevent myself being thrown to the lions in the Coliseum?” I hear you ask? Well, the safest way is to make sure you are aware of the local laws whenever you intend to travel abroad. Better an hour with a guidebook now than a year in a foreign jail that could easily be avoided.

Here are some examples of activities that can get you into legal trouble when holidaying in Italy.

  1. Purchasing unauthorised tours from touts in any city.
  2. Purchasing "skip-the-line" tours on the streets outside historic monuments in Rome.
  3. Joining organised pub crawls in Rome.
  4. Eating or drinking at famous sites in any city, like the Spanish Steps.
  5. Sitting or lying down in front of shops, historic monuments and bridges. You'll more than likely be moved on.
  6. Eating 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. Dragging pushchairs or wheeled suitcases up the Spanish Steps in Rome.
  8. Jumping into fountains in any city.
  9. Setting up picnics in public spaces or pausing too long on bridges in Venice.
  10. Riding bikes in Venice city centre.
  11. Drinking alcohol on the street between 8pm and 8am in Venice.
  12. Busking on public transport in Rome.
  13. Attaching lovelocks to bridges in Rome and Venice.
  14. Taking part in group celebrations such as hen and stag parties outdoors during weeknights in Venice. Daytime or weekends only!
  15. Letting your mouth touch the spout of Rome's public drinking fountains, known as nasoni. Instead cup your hands under the spout.
  16. Drinking alcohol out of glass containers in public spaces in Rome after 10pm. Or drinking alcohol out of any container after midnight in public at all.
  17. Dressing up as a historical figure or character like a "centurion" (gladiator) in Rome and posing for photos with tourists. These are licenced jobs for locals.
  18. Walking around shirtless or in swimwear in any metropolitan area. Keep it for the beach or pool!.
  19. Wearing sandals or flip-flops while hiking in the north western Cinque Terre region.
  20. Swimming in the Blue Grotto on Capri. You can visit by boat but swimming is strictly forbidden. Heidi Klum was fined €6000 for taking a dip this summer.


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