Saudi engineer drives Maserati down Rome's Spanish Steps in 'sat nav mistake'

Rented luxury car blamed for damaging 18th-century Italian landmark

A rented Maserati was driven down Rome's Spanish Steps in a late-night mishap. Photo: Polizia Roma Capitale
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A Saudi Arabian driver was tracked down by police in Rome after a wrong turn sent him motoring down the city’s historic Spanish Steps, in a mishap he blamed on the sat nav in his luxury car.

Police said a rented Maserati was to blame for damaging the 18th-century staircase, an elegant landmark which overlooks one of Italy's most famous piazzas but whose 11 flights of steps are hardly meant for motorists.

The late-night misadventure was caught on security cameras, which showed the Maserati taking an alarming turn down the staircase, shuddering down the upper steps before coming to a halt.

Authorities said the driver, 37, was traced after returning his rental car 600 kilometres away at Milan’s Malpensa Airport, where he was stopped and charged with damaging cultural assets.

Further details were reported by Italian media, which said the man was a Saudi engineer who offered to pay for the damage but was quoted as saying: “I followed the sat nav.”

“I didn’t do it on purpose. It was a mistake,” he said, according to newspaper Il Quotidiano. “I will pay what there is to pay.”

Heritage officials said the driver’s wrong turn had broken the 16th and 29th steps and chipped other parts of the landmark, with costs still being assessed.

The stairs had been refurbished six years ago to restore the appearance they had when they were inaugurated by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725. The Spanish Square and Steps are named after foreign diplomats who once frequented the area.

The driver was traced after trying to return his Maserati in Milan. Photo: Polizia Roma Capitale
Updated: May 16, 2022, 9:14 AM