May 14 (UPI) — The man who drove a Maserati down the Spanish Steps outside of the Trinità dei Monti church in Rome has been charged with “aggravated damage to cultural and monumental assets.”
The Capital Police in Rome said in a statement that the 37-year-old foreign national, whose name was not revealed, drove down the steps Tuesday night – damaging them.
The incident was captured on surveillance video and police in Rome have released images from it showing the luxury car speeding down the historic staircase before fleeing the scene.
Investigators tracked the car to a rental company based in Milan who provided them with the driver’s details and he was arrested when trying to return the car at the Malpensa airport in the north of Italy.
Officials with the office of Rome’s Superintendence for Cultural Heritage said in a statement that the steps were fractured in parts between the 16th and 29th steps of the 135-step staircase.
Fragments that were broken off were temporarily reconnected “in order to allow immediate reopening for pedestrian transit,” the statement reads.
The cultural office said that it would work to permanently restore the steps by replacing the portions that were fractured that “are compatible” with the existing staircase in terms of color and material characteristics.
Officials said that chips, scratches and other abrasions were also found on ramps at the staircase also attributed to the driver. It was not immediately known how much the repairs would cost.
In 2017, a proposal was made to ban the use of the steps at night, ArtNet reported at the time. The proposal also would have led to fees for sitting on the steps and the installation of a Plexiglass barrier to protect the 300-year-old monument.
Concern for the protection of the steps had grown after Dutch soccer fans damaged the Fontana della Barcaccia, a fountain designed by the Baroque artist Bernini, which sits at the base of the steps.