March 23, 2023

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An American tourist has been fined for driving a rental car over a medieval Italian bridge

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Rome (CNN) – The Ponte Vecchio, a beautiful, centuries-old bridge spanning the Arno River in the Italian city of Florence, is best viewed on foot, as crowds of tourists regularly gather at the pedestrian building to view its ancient stonework.

Especially when, as a California tourist discovered this week, trying to drive through it can cost you more than $540.

The 34-year-old was fined €500 after crossing the bridge in a rented white Fiat Panda, and driving without an international driver’s license, on Thursday morning, according to a statement from the city of Florence. press office.

He told police he was looking for parking and didn’t realize he was on the famous medieval bridge, according to the statement.

Ponte Vecchio is enclosed, lined with shops and usually scurrying with pedestrian traffic.

The landmark is 98 feet (30 m) long, which crosses the narrowest part of the Arno River, connecting the Pitti Palace with Piazza Repubblica. The original bridge was started in 996 and finished in 1345. It was washed away by floods and rebuilt several times.

It is the only bridge in Florence that was not bombed by Germany in World War II. It also houses the Vasari Corridor, a corridor originally used by Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici between the Pitti Palace and Palazzo Vecchio.

The City of Florence has allocated €2 million for a comprehensive renovation project, according to the City of Florence budget.

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The Fiat Panda driver isn’t alone when it comes to tourists making trouble for themselves by apparently taking a wrong turn into a famous Italian landmark.

Last May, a Saudi man was arrested while trying to leave Italy after he drove a rented Maserati sports car down the Spanish Steps in Rome and fled the scene after the car stopped in the middle of the road. He was charged with serious damage to cultural heritage and antiquities.

Top photo: Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge (Marta Carenzi/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images)