Planning a visit to Rome? Be prepared to do as the Romans do, or face a hefty fine.
That's right, button up that shirt, put down the messy snacks and leave your plans of a pub crawl at home; the time of unfettered antics in the Eternal City is over. Tired of bad behaviour from tourists, the Italian authorities have tightened up historic legislation in an effort to keep tourists and residents in check and improve the city for all.
If you aren't a 20-something-year-old, drinking your way through Europe for a year, or those unruly stag and hens groups, it's easy to ignore the news – these rules wouldn't affect a sophisticated holiday maker such as yourself, right? Not necessarily. Although most of the updated laws cover exploits previously prohibited by pure common sense, such as taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain, others will mean innocent mistakes could land you in trouble.
Under the new legislation, messy eating isn't just met with discouraging looks but a potential fine and allowing your mouth to touch the metal spout of a drinking fountain is equally forbidden.
Dreams of making your own addition to the famous "love lock" bridges will have to remain a fantasy and men will finally see how the other half lives on a hot day, with bare chests now illegal.
As for how much trouble you can get yourself in by slurping on a water fountain or dripping your gelato on the Spanish Steps, the jury is still out. However, it seems as long as you respect patrolling police and don't kick up a fuss, you can escape a "daspo", temporary trespass notice, or "severe fine".
Although the city's new sanctions seem like a poorly concealed cold shoulder to tourists, Rome's mayor, Virginia Raggi, said it was simply a way to encourage a safer, more respectful city. "Rome is, and always will be, welcoming but that does not mean tolerating bad behaviour and damage being done to our city," she said.
Rome's new rules aren't just singling out tourists. Residents are banned from busking in certain areas, drying laundry outside, offering rickshaw rides or pub crawls and selling alcohol between 10pm and 7am.
Unsurprisingly, the regulations have been met with some resistance and confusion from tourists. However, if anything, Rome is late to the game of using laws to control the ever-increasing flood of visitors.
In 2017, Venice brought in fines of up to €450 to prevent tourists lying on benches, loitering near monuments and feeding birds. Dubrovnik made efforts in 2018 to stem the tide by limiting cruise ship and passenger numbers to keep the daily influx to fewer than 4000 people. Bhutan has famously modelled the tourist tariff since the early 1990s, charging tourists US$250 ($370) day and consequentially saving it from becoming just another budget travel stop.
Unfortunately, for those who want to drip gelato or pub crawl in peace, it seems legal measures are set to become the norm, as cities attempt to manage over-tourism and its consequences. And although it may seem inconvenient or disappointing at first, missing out on a gelato on the Spanish Steps or a padlock on a bridge seems a small price to pay to preserve the charm and beauty of the world's Eternal City.