Roma (CNN) — In Rome, don’t drive your fancy sports car up the historic stairs.
That was apparently overlooked by a man who this week drove his rental Maserati up the city’s Spanish Steps and now faces charges of allegedly damaging the monument, police in the capital say Italian.
The anonymous 37-year-old Saudi national accused of driving was apprehended at Milan Malpensa airport after police identified him through the car rental company from images of the vehicle taken by surveillance cameras.
He is accused of aggravated damage to cultural heritage and monuments.
Video footage of the incident released by police shows the Maserati being driven into the pedestrian zone above the steps overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday. The car descends the first flight of stairs before stopping. Someone is then seen getting out of the vehicle and inspecting his fate.
The car caused fractures on the 16th and 29th steps of the right flight rising from the Spanish Steps, Rome’s heritage protection body said in a statement.
Some marble fragments have been temporarily glued “to allow the immediate reopening for the passage of pedestrians”, he said.
“Chips, Scratches and Abrasions”
Heritage experts say the car fractured in two stages.
Rome Superintendency for Cultural Heritage
Further work will be required “to restore the damaged steps by replacing the fractured parts, with travertine blocks which, in terms of color and material characteristics, are compatible” with the damaged steps.
Cultural heritage technicians are assessing the economic damage from the accident, considering they also found “chips, scratches, abrasions and widespread deposits on both ramps on the second level, attributable to the same event”, says the communicated.
The Spanish Steps is one of Rome’s most famous landmarks. They owe their name to the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See which is housed in a palace in the square below.
In 2015, the steps underwent a two-year restoration that cost 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million), sponsored by the jewelry house Bulgari, which has its flagship store in Via dei Condotti in proximity.
The Spanish Steps have served as the backdrop for many film scenes, including “Roman Holiday”, the 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Top image credit: Polizia Roma Capitale