Italy has a problem, and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will go away soon either.
Here’s the issue: Drones operated by tourists keep crashing — or nearly crashing — into Italy’s historic buildings, monuments, and plazas.
In what is now the third incident this month, a drone crashed onto the roof of the historic Palazzo Venezia in Rome. Built in the 15th century, Palazzo Venezia is where fascist dictator Benito Mussolini delivered some of his most famous speeches — including declaring war against Britain and France on June 10, 1940. Today, the building houses a museum.
The drone’s operator, a 39-year-old tourist from Argentina, “was probably unaware of the ban on drone overflight” for the city of Rome as well as the Vatican, said Captain Matteo Alborghetti of the Carabinieri (Italy’s national military police force), according to CNN. “Fortunately, there were no repercussions, no one was hurt, and the roof of Palazzo Venezia was not damaged.”
That said, the drone has been seized by police and the tourist risks criminal prosecution, according to The Guardian.
What tourists don’t realize is that drones cannot be operated over Rome or the Vatican due to the high number of historic buildings and monuments. Drones also cannot be operated over urban or crowded areas. Furthermore, people who want to fly a drone — even if it is only to take pictures — need a special license from Enac, Italy’s civil aviation authority. They also need authorization from the prefecture (a local town or jurisdiction) and the police, CNN explains.
Earlier this month, a drone piloted by two Mexican tourists crashed into Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower. Fortunately, the tower wasn’t damaged, reports CNN. Consequently, however, the tourists now face police action for flying a drone over Pisa, reports The Guardian.
Then, earlier this week, a 32-year-old Romanian tourist was stopped by police while he was also flying a drone near Pisa’s tower. The man told police he was using the drone to “take more evocative images of the tower,” a police spokesman said, according to CNN.
Drone-related incidents haven’t just been occurring in Italy this year.
In 2020, a 40-year-old tourist from Poland was cited by police after crashing his drone inside Rome’s famed Colosseum — despite having already been warned not to operate a drone there, The Guardian explains. And last year, a 61-year-old man was charged with an “attack against transport security” after flying his drone above Rome at an altitude of 2,000 meters (over 6,500 feet), The Guardian continues.
Know Before You Operate A Drone
If you’ll be traveling to Italy and are thinking of using a drone to take some fantastic pictures or even video, remember that you’ll need a license from Italy’s civil aviation authority as well as special permission from the town or jurisdiction you’ll be visiting and its local police.
Otherwise, operating a drone in Italy without special permission can get expensive. Fines for illegally operating a drone in Italy can range from €516–€64,000, or $542–$67,244, The Guardian explains.
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