In 1612, Pope Paul V celebrated the completion of the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola in the Holy City of Rome. It’s an icon.
Commissioned to note the end of the Acqua Paola acqueduct, it’s a brilliant, white marble fountain with intricate illustrations carved into the rock. It’s the setting of the opening scene of “The Great Beauty,” a film by Paolo Sorrentino celebrating the city.
And on July 8, 2016, some tourists frolicked in bikinis in its waters — and incensed the local population.
The temperature in Rome was as high at 92 degrees Fahrenheit that day, so it makes sense that tourists would want to splash around in an extremely walkable fountain.
Locals were angry. The local magazine Trastevere posted on Twitter, “It is very hot but the [Fontana] cannot become a pool for tourists. Rome deserves more respect!”
“I think it’s disgusting and indecent nude in the city, each fountain in Rome is a work of art,” one local commented on the tweet. “But the police, what will they do?” commented another, expressing frustration with local law enforcement.
It’s been illegal to bathe in Rome’s fountains since the 1700s, according to The Independent. Fines can reach up to 200 euros, or 221 US dollars.
So far, it doesn’t look like the perpetrators have been caught.
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