Recent attacks on Rome’s monuments have left me perplexed and a bit disappointed. Often, travelers to the city are blamed for damaging the city’s patrimony, but this is not always the case. Only last week a Roman man vandalized a fountain in the Piazza Navona to make a statement about his own legal troubles (now compounded by his vandalizing). What is even more startling is the man’s admission that onlookers simply watched as he vandalized the statue (even the man arrested for the crime admitted he found it strange that no one made a move or word to stop him).
A recently Repubblica photo-montage of residents and tourists “abusing” the famed fountain the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere shows tourists using the fountain as a beer cooler, sitting on it like they were in their own living room, and even bathing and walking on the structure.
It’s important that Rome’s city council take steps to protect the artistic heritage of his great city as well as educating residents and tourists that fountains and monuments are not benches. Tourists planting themselves on monuments, swimming in fountains and using them for coolers prevents others from enjoying them. Who wants their memories of Rome to be drunken men and women sloshing about a fountain in the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere?
I have seen tourists shooed away from the Spanish Steps for sitting down and having a sip of bottled water or eating a piece of pizza. Are the police not able to do the same for some of the “lesser” monuments in the city? The monuments and heritage of Rome have enough to contend with — a government that seeks to cut more and more from the ministry which oversees cultural and patrimony due to the economic crisis and poor governance as well as man-made dangers such as pollution and acid rain.
While these problems can’t be solved in a day, there is a simple solution that will benefit all: visitors and residents of the city can help out a lot just by simply treating the city and its treasures as they would wish to be treated.
*image: Fontana della Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome