Traveling to Europe is terribly exciting and terribly expensive. The last thing you want to pay for (on top of everything else) is a fine for breaking a law you didn’t know existed. So, if you’re going to Europe in the near future, it would benefit you to brush up on some local rules and regulations. Some of them may surprise you!
1. Saving spots at Italian beaches
In Italy, it’s illegal to save yourself a spot on the beach. If you claim a spot at the beach using things like towels, chairs, and umbrellas, apparently the Italian coastguards can issue fines up to $221. Italian beaches are crowded, so it’s not uncommon for tourists to leave out a towel or two overnight to reserve a spot next to the water for the following day. But with a fine like that, it’s best to just show up early and hope for the best.
2. You cannot die in the Houses of Parliament
Not that anyone plans to, but in case you were thinking about taking your final breaths in the House of Parliament, you’ll need to make other arrangements. Fortunately, the U.K. realizes what an odd law this is, as it was voted the most ludicrous law in the U.K. in 2007. “The people who know about these things here say there is no basis for such a law, not to say it doesn’t exist somewhere in writing,” says a spokesman for the House of Commons.
3. Dipping your feet in Rome’s fountains
If you’ve ever been to Rome during the summer months, you know there’s little escape from the heat. Unfortunately, tourists and locals alike can no longer use the city’s historic fountains as a means to cool off. The fine for taking a dip in a fountain is $240.
“The beauty of Rome must be respected by everyone,” Mayor Virginia Raggi wrote on Facebook. “We will not tolerate behavior that contravenes decorum, and we want to protect the historic, artistic and archaeological heritage of Rome.”
4. Keeping a pet goldfish in a round bowl
Rome also decided to write a law banning the use of round goldfish bowls. Their reasoning? The bowl is a cruel home for the fish, as it doesn’t provide enough oxygen and can cause fish to go blind. The bylaw also prohibits giving away goldfish (or other animals) as prizes.
5. Kissing on French train platforms
This law was introduced in 1910 to break up delays, as couples often kissed goodbye to see each other off on the train, creating frequent traffic jams. Today, the law still stands. However, according to Today I Learned Something New, there’s no longer a formal penalty given to those who kiss on the platforms. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
6. Flying drones
Drones are great for capturing beautiful bird’s-eye view photographs and videos, but they also may be violating the local law of piloting remote aircrafts. For those who own a drone, be sure to check the city guidelines prior to filming and taking photographs — you may need a permit, if you can fly one at all. A hefty fine of up to $170,000 is the price you’ll pay for violating this law.
7. Buying counterfeit goods
Italy is full of knockoff goods. From fake Prada to pirated copies of Microsoft Word, you can find pretty much whatever you’re looking for along the streets of Italy. But according to Europe for Visitors, Italian police have started cracking down on the selling and purchasing of counterfeit goods. If caught in the act, you could have to pay $3,910–$11,731.
8. Hiking in the nude
In 2009, Canton Appenzell in Switzerland banned hiking in the nude. (Apparently, there had been an increase in “naked tourists” from Germany.) But some people never learn. According to Time Out, two years after the law passed, a man was caught wandering around a picnic site naked and was fined $102.
9. Taking local stones as souvenirs
It’s common for tourists to take a memento from their trip home with them. Stones, leaves, and seashells are all common bits of nature that often make it home with travelers. But, according to Miss Happy Feet, if you take any of the natural stones from Sicily’s Stair of the Turks, you’ll be met with a $586 fine. When in doubt, it’s better to just take a picture.
10. No drinking on public streets in the evening
Rome has also banned drinking on public streets during the evening. Just this year, the mayor of the city banned drinking from glass containers in public after 10 p.m., drinking at all in public after midnight, and selling alcohol after 2 a.m. If you’re caught violating any of these laws, you’ll have to pay a fine of $200.
11. All citizens must smile
Grumpy people beware: Milan is not the place for you! In Milan, Italy, it is a legal requirement to smile, according to Daily Mail. Thankfully, there are two exceptions to the rule: Funerals and hospital visits. Violators could be forced to pay a hefty fine for not smiling.
12. Running out of gas
In Germany, it’s illegal to run out of gas on the highway. So if you’re ever driving in Germany, fill up if you doubt you’ll make it to your next location and always keep an eye on your gas tank. If you don’t, you could be breaking the law.
13. No kissing in cars
Hoping for romance in your upcoming trip to Italy? Just keep the romance out of the car. Eboli, south of Naples, banned kissing in cars. According to Telegraph, “passionate Italians caught kissing in a moving car … face a 500 euro fine.”
14. Wearing heels to Greek monuments
Heels are banned in many of Greece’s historic landmarks. This law came about because when people would wear heels to visit these old, historic archaeological sites, they’d damage the ancient monuments. Luckily, sandals and sneakers are a lot comfier for going on ancient monument tours anyway.
15. Don’t pee in the canals
In Amsterdam, it’s illegal to urinate in the canals. That is, unless you’re pregnant. But for everyone else, you’ll be charged with a hefty fine for getting caught urinating into one of Amsterdam’s many famous canals. This law exists because so many inebriated people die each year attempting to do just that, according to the Huffington Post.
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