Bulgari wants Spanish Steps closed at night

Sponsor says "barbarians" should not have access to restored Spanish Steps at night.

Paolo Bulgari, the chairman of luxury jeweller Bulgari which sponsored the €1.5 million restoration of Rome’s Spanish Steps, says the historic staircase should be fenced off at night to protect it from "barbarian" tourists.

Bulgari was speaking to Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica ahead of the 21 September inauguration of the Spanish Steps, or the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, with a special concert by the S. Cecilia orchestra directed by Sir Antonio Pappano.

Decrying the previously cracked and stained state of the now-pristine stairway, Bulgari said he believes that eating, drinking and sitting at the Spanish Steps should be stopped, asking if Rome wanted "quality or quantity tourism"?

His remarks have received a mixed response, with some local traders expressing agreement with his proposal to limit access to the 18th-century monument following its 18-month restoration project.

However Bulgari's suggestion was rejected outright by Rome’s superintendent of cultural heritage, Claudio Parisi Presicce, who said it would be "unthinkable" to block public access to the steps.

The jewellery firm undertook the refurbishment as a “special gift from Bulgari to its city” to mark its 130th anniversary.

Photo La Repubblica