A tourist from California has been slapped with a hefty fine after driving his rental car over a medieval bridge in Italy on Jan. 26.
The man, 34, claimed he was looking for a parking spot when he drove the Fiat across Florence’s historic Ponte Vecchio, a bridge which has stood over Italy’s Arno River for well over seven centuries — and one which is famously closed to vehicular traffic.
When stopped by local police, the man said he wasn’t even aware he was on the pedestrian-only bridge, according to a news release issued by Florence officials.
The tourist was ultimately slapped with a 500-euro fine (roughly $545), for driving his Fiat across the bridge, and also for operating his vehicle without an international license, according to officials.
The first bridge on the current site of the Ponte Vecchio is believed to have been built late in the 10th century, though it has been reconstructed and restored after being swept away during floods in later centuries. The current structure dates back to 1345.
The bridge also famously survived WWII, as it was the only one in Florence not destroyed by the Germans. Major flooding of the Arno once again threatened the Ponte Vecchio in 1966, though the structure remained standing.
Regarded as one of Florence’s major landmarks, the bridge continues to be a popular stop among tourists, who cross the bridge — on foot — to admire the medieval stonework, appreciate the views, and browse wares from the jewelry shops that line either side.