Warning: Sitting Down on Rome’s Spanish Steps Could Now Cost You $450

Vladislav Zolotov/iStock via Getty Images
Vladislav Zolotov/iStock via Getty Images

“I was just sitting here doing nothing” won’t get you out of trouble if a police officer blows their whistle at you on Rome’s Spanish Steps. In fact, just sitting there is the problem. Mayor Virginia Raggi and the rest of the Roman government recently passed a number of regulations to help preserve the city’s historical landmarks, which includes banning visitors from plopping down on the scenic stone steps.

The 18th-century Spanish Steps connect the Santissima Trinità dei Monti Church at the top with the Piazza di Spagna square below. The steps recently received a $1.7-million restoration funded largely by luxury brand Bulgari, which has operated a shop in the square since 1884. As Forbes explains, officers can now fine you up to $450 for failing to move along or soiling the steps in any way.

Some people think the sitting ban is extreme—Roman newspaper Il Messaggero opined that photos of the empty stairs conveyed “desolation” rather than strength, as reported by The New York Times—but most officials support the new rule. It’s not really sitting that proves most problematic, but rather the propensity for tourists to use the stairs as a place to take a snack or drink break. As David Sermoneta, the president of the Piazza di Spagna Trinità dei Monti Association, told The New York Times, “You couldn’t walk around the Metropolitan Museum snacking on food and slurping a Coke. We expect the same for the center of Rome.”

“Those restorations cost,” one police officer told The New York Times while gesturing to an apparent ice cream cone stain on the stairs. “Why shouldn’t we watch over the city’s monuments?” It’s safe to say that if Roman Holiday (1953) had been filmed this year, Audrey Hepburn wouldn’t have enjoyed her own ice cream cone while perched on the stairs.

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on the Spanish Steps in Roman Holiday
Paramount Pictures

It’s not the only iconic film scene that the new laws would’ve foiled—Anita Ekberg’s sensual soak in the Trevi Fountain during La Dolce Vita (1960) would run her a $500 bill today. The city has also tightened restrictions on prostitution, mistreatment of animals, the sale of alcohol, and graffiti. The New York Times reports that according to Rome’s website, the rules aim to forbid behavior that is “not compatible with the historic and artistic decorum” of Rome in order to “guarantee decorum, security, and legality.”

But don’t let the stricter policies put a damper on your enthusiasm to experience all that Rome has to offer. Luckily, gelato is easy enough to eat on the go.

[h/t Forbes]

The Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Each State

Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hot air balloons drifting over the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Greg Meland/iStock via Getty Images

In 2018, Americans took about 1.8 billion trips for leisure purposes alone, the U.S. Travel Association reports. But what types of attractions do they visit during those trips? Thanks to new data from Groupon and Viator, a TripAdvisor company, we now have the answer.

Map of the Northeast of the United States, showing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in that region

Groupon mapped out each state’s most popular travel experience and classified them according to price, type, and region. Tourists in the northeast United States tend to gravitate toward what Groupon describes as “exploration and discovery” activities, like the Founding Fathers Tour of Philadelphia, Maine's Portland City and Lighthouse Tour, and the day trip from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard.

Map of the Midwest region of the United States, listing a few of the most popular tourist attractions in those states

The Midwest is by far the cheapest place to vacation, with the cost of attractions in the region averaging about $48. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and North Dakota are great states to visit if you’re looking for a top-ranked food tour, while South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois offer plenty of educational tours and experiences (including a movie site tour for Field of Dreams fans).

Map of the Southern region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist attractions in that area

Experiences in the South are fairly varied. Visitors have plenty of options, whether they’re looking for a historic tour of Asheville, North Carolina's Biltmore Estate (the largest privately owned house in the United States) or a day of thrills at Virginia’s Busch Gardens amusement park. Tourists in the South do seem to prefer watery activities, though—the region is popular for dinner cruises and dolphin watching.

Map of the Western region of the United States, listing some of the most popular tourist destinations in the area

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West is easily the most expensive region for visitors, averaging about $176 per attraction. Tourists in this region tend to gravitate toward experiences like helicopter tours and hot air balloon rides, all of which push the region toward the pricey end of the scale. Still, if you’re looking for astounding natural beauty, there are few places with more variety than the American West.

Driving This Thanksgiving Holiday? Here’s the Worst Time to Leave, According to Google Maps

Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images
Marcos Assis/iStock via Getty Images

For many people, cooking the turkey correctly or dodging political arguments with family members aren't the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. It's having to share the road with millions of other travelers on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. If you're hoping to make this element of the holiday a little more tolerable in 2019, plan your day with data from Google Maps.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Google Maps recently published a roundup of Thanksgiving travel tips, including the absolute worst times to hit the road. You may think that leaving the day before Thanksgiving will give you a head-start on traffic, but according to Google, Wednesday is the busiest travel day of the week. Congestion peaks between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday in many parts of the country. If you have no choice but to travel on November 27, plan to leave earlier in the day before roads get too crowded.

It pays to leave the house early the day of the actual holiday. Around 6 a.m., roads will be clear in most major cities, with traffic gradually increasing throughout the morning and peaking as early as noon.

As people who regularly travel for Turkey Day know, getting to dinner on time is only half the headache. Traffic can be just as brutal on the way home. To make the journey as painless as possible, plan to leave first thing in the morning—ideally on Sunday, when most travelers have completed the trip.

Traveling for Thanksgiving is rarely as simple as driving to and from dinner. If you plan on making pit stops along the way, Google has travel information for that as well. According to Google search trends, "ham shops" are busiest at noon the day before Thanksgiving, and outlet malls reach peak traffic around noon on Black Friday. Here are some more stress-free travel tips for the holiday season.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]