Romes historic Fontana dellAcqua Paola. Picture: Serguei,

London - For these three tourists, a fountain must have seemed the perfect place to cool off as temperatures hit 32C.

But the women sparked outrage in Italy by stripping down to their swimwear for a dip in Rome’s historic Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.

Their antics at the 400-year-old fountain, also known as the Gianicolo, appalled locals, who claimed on social media that the three women, two of whom wore skimpy bikinis, must have been either English or German to behave in such a disrespectful manner. Anyone taking a dip in Rome’s fountains faces a fine of up to 200 euros (about R3 000).



However, the identity and nationality of the tourists is unknown. They were photographed by an onlooker who put his pictures on Italian tourism site Trastevere at the weekend with the message: “It’s very hot, but the fountain of Gianicolo can’t become a swimming pool for tourists. Rome deserves more respect.” A poster named Serena, commented: “These guys are so rude.”

On Twitter, locals criticised police for not having arrested the three women.

One wrote: “You should go and do something similar in England or Germany. I’m going tomorrow in my boxer shorts and swimming cap.” But not all the comments were bad. One tweeter named Derek said: “Three silver coins in the fountain. Bravo. At least they aren’t drugged and boozed up like other youngsters.”

This is not the first time the heat has got the better of the city’s visitors. Last summer, six Britons on a business trip were fined for indecent exposure after taking a late-night skinny dip in La Fontana delle Naiadi.