The 70-year-old man was caught after driving the silver Land Rover onto the white sands of Marinella beach in northern Sardinia on Friday, La Nuova Sardegna reported.
Despite the shore being almost empty, with sun loungers awaiting hordes of beachgoers, the car was spotted by canoeist Francesco Gambella.
“I had just put down the canoe when I heard the noise of an engine. I raised my eyes and found myself in front of an SUV that had shot onto the beach,” Gambella was quoted as saying, explaining how he took out his smartphone to record the incident.
“Obviously my astonishment was increased when I realised who made up the passengers in the SUV. It seemed like a film by Totò,” he added, referring to a celebrated 20th century comic actor. There were three nuns in the car, believed to be from South American countries.
Gambella’s video shows him approaching the car and telling one of the nuns, who can be seen hanging out of the vehicle taking a photo, that she is breaking the rules.
“Sister, you know that it’s forbidden to enter with a car like this,” he said, prompting the nun’s laughter and her closing the door.
Gambella then exchanges a few words with the driver before the car is reversed and driven off. The canoeist then took his video to the police, who traced the Land Rover driver and slapped him with a €619 fine, La Nuova Sardegna said.
Gianni Serra, the local police commander, said the hefty fine was necessary to protect the environment. “It’s not about a simple ban on stopping, but of the serious violation of norms that protect the landscape,” he was quoted as saying.
Police officers did not need to be present at the crimescene in order to punish rogue islanders, as citizens’ could produce the necessary evidence, Serra added.
A similar incident happened in October, when three photojournalists were reportedly fined €5,000 each for taking shots of a car driving along Sardinia’s Liscia Ruja beach.
A couple from Bologna holidaying in Pittulongu, also in northern Sardinia, were reportedly fined €2,000 when they parked on the sand dunes in 2013.
But it’s not only cars that can cause trouble on Sardinian beaches. Last year a Danish tourist was fined €600 for putting a cigarette out on the shores of Alghero.