Rome (CNN) — When in Rome, don’t drive down historic stairs in your fancy sports car.
That apparently went unnoticed by a man who drove his rented Maserati down the city’s Spanish Steps this week and is now charged with allegedly vandalizing the landmark, police in the Italian capital said.
The unnamed 37-year-old Saudi national, who is accused of being behind the wheel, was arrested at Milan’s Malpensa airport after police identified him through the car rental company from images of the vehicle captured by surveillance cameras.
He is accused of serious damage to cultural assets and monuments.
Video footage of the incident released by police shows the Maserati being driven into the pedestrian street above the stairs overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. The car descends the first flight of stairs before stopping. Someone is then seen getting out of the vehicle and inspecting his plight.
The car caused fractures at the 16th and 29th steps of the right wing rising from Spanish Square, Rome’s monuments authority said in a statement.
Some marble fragments have been temporarily reinstalled “to allow immediate reopening to pedestrian traffic,” it said.
‘Chips, scratches and abrasions’
Cultural property experts say that the car broke two stages.
Rome’s Inspectorate of Cultural Heritage
Further work is needed “to restore the damaged steps by replacing the broken parts with travertine blocks that are compatible with the damaged steps in terms of color and material properties.”
Heritage technicians are assessing the economic damage of the accident as they also found “widespread chipping, scratches, abrasions and debris on both second level ramps attributable to the same event,” the statement said.
The Spanish Steps are among the most famous monuments in Rome. They owe their name to the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, housed in a palazzo in the square below.
In 2015, the staircase underwent a two-year restoration that cost 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and was sponsored by jewelry house Bulgari, which has its flagship store on nearby Via dei Condotti.
The Spanish Steps have served as a backdrop for scenes in countless films, most notably the 1953 film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Top photo credit: Rome Capital Police