Saudi man charged after Maserati driven down Rome’s Spanish Steps

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Rome (CNN) – When in Rome, don’t drive your fancy sports car down historic stairs.

That advice was apparently ignored by a man who this week took his hired Maserati down the Spanish steps of the city and now faces charges of damaging the landmark, according to police in the Italian capital.

An unnamed 37-year-old Saudi national accused of being behind the wheel was arrested at Milan’s Malpensa airport after police identified him by a car rental company from images of the vehicle captured by surveillance cameras.

He has been accused of causing further damage to cultural heritage and monuments.

Video footage of the incident, released by police, shows Maserati being taken to a footpath overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. The first flight of stairs descends before the car stops. Then someone is seen getting out of the vehicle and observing his plight.

The car was fractured on the 16th and 29th steps of the right-hand flight from Spanish Square, Rome’s Heritage Protection Body said in a statement.

Some marble fragments were temporarily reattached “to allow immediate reopening for pedestrian transport,” he said.

‘Chippings, scratches and friction’

Heritage experts say the car has two fractures.

Heritage experts say the car has two fractures.

Superintendent of Rome for Cultural Heritage

More work will be required to “replace damaged parts with damaged steps, replacing fractured parts, with travertine blocks that are compatible in terms of color and material characteristics”.

Cultural Heritage technicians are assessing the economic damage from the accident, noting that they have also “found extensive chippings, scratches, friction and deposits on both second-level ramps, thanks to a similar incident,” the statement said.

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One of the most famous monuments in Rome is the Spanish Steps. They are named after the Spanish embassy at the Holy Sea which is hosted in the plaza in the lower square.

In 2015, the steps were restored for two years at a cost of € 1.5 million ($ 1.6 million), sponsored by jewelry house Bulgari, which has its flagship store in nearby Via dei Condoti.

Spanish Steps has served as a backdrop for scenes in countless films, the most notable of which is “Roman Holiday,” a 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

Top Image Credits: Polysia Roma Capital

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