A man from Saudi Arabia was charged after he drove his rented Maserati down the famous Spanish Steps in Rome.
Several of the 300-year-old steps were damaged by the 37-year-old man's disastrous drive late Tuesday night, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
Driver Claims He Took a 'Wrong Turn'
The unidentified 37-year-old man claimed that he simply took a "wrong turn" and ended up on the staircase, Italian media reported. Surveillance video captured the luxury car stopped about halfway down the stairs.
Police tracked the man down through the rented vehicle, according to CNN. He was arrested Friday at Milan's airport while returning the car. He's been charged with aggravated damage to cultural heritage and monuments.
Car Fractured Two Steps, Damaged Ramps
Video footage of the incident released by police shows the Maserati being driven into the pedestrian-only zone above the steps overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. The car descends the first flight of steps before halting. Someone is then seen emerging from the vehicle and inspecting its plight.
The car caused fractures to the 16th and 29th steps of the right-hand flight rising up from Spanish Square, Rome's heritage protection body said in a statement. Some marble fragments were temporarily reattached "in order to allow the immediate reopening for pedestrian transit," it said.
More work will be necessary "to restore the damaged steps by replacing the fractured portions, with travertine blocks that, in terms of color and material characteristics, are compatible" with the damaged steps.
Cultural heritage technicians are evaluating the economic damage of the accident, considering that they also found "widespread chippings, scratches, abrasions, and deposits on both ramps of the second level, attributable to the same event," the statement said.
The Steps Underwent Massive $1.6 million Restoration Project in 2015
The Spanish Steps are used daily by tourists and Romans, but they're not meant for cars. The staircase, which gets its name from a Spanish Embassy at the top, underwent a restoration project in 2015 that cost â¬1.5 million ($1.6 million), sponsored by jewelry house Bulgari, which has its flagship store in the nearby Via dei Condotti.
The Spanish Steps have served as the backdrop for scenes in countless films, most notably Roman Holiday, the 1953 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The Steps were featured prominently in the film version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), starring Matt Damon in the title role and also appeared in a scene in the film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015), starring Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill and Alicia Vikander. Fast X - the upcoming tenth installment in the Fast & Furious franchise also recently shot a scene at the popular monument.