Posted by: debrakolkka | November 4, 2011

A romantic gesture or vandalism?

There is a trend in several places I have visited in Europe for lovers to place a padlock on which their initials are painted or engraved onto fences in romantic spots. Some of the bridges across the Seine in Paris are covered in these padlocks.


Does this improve the view?



The locks have been recently cleared from the fence in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio, but they are already starting to reappear.


I’m sure this chap is pleased to be free of the locks at his base.

The entrance to the bridge is another place for the locks to gather. What is the point?


Local councils have to waste time and money to remove these padlocks, only to have fences covered in the things again.
Do you think this is a romantic thing to do? I’m coming down on the side of vandalism. Call me an old grouch if you like, but I really dislike this silly practice.

On a recent trip to the Ponte Vecchio I noticed a sign threatening to fine people for putting locks on the fence – excellent. I hope is not just a threat.



  1. I don’t understand what the locks mean? I’m sure they’re making some sort of statement, but wish I knew what it was. If it is romantic I guess it’s sweet in a way but I think I would side with you and call it vandalism… Sad. Wish humans could find other ways to “leave their mark” than this.

    • Some of these fences become so clustered with these locks it is a wonder they don’t fall down, which is why councils have to remove them regularly.

  2. I disagree, you lock a padlock to something and take away the key it becomes permeant and supposedly unremovable like the true nature of love.

    I think its quite ironic that the government are removing them as they are not just taking them away but they are breaking the lock there for breaking the gesture!

    If that kinda makes sense?? Sorry guys i like them…

    • Why not put the lock on your own fence, not public property?

  3. Deb, I am going to do a post on what I witnessed in Verona and it is truly shocking. It makes me sick. It is just another phase but wait until I do my post on ‘Verona’. This is not a romantic thing to do at all.

    • I wait with bated breath.

  4. I found it stupid…but the meening is to have a locked up love, it comes from the book and film 3 metri sopra il cielo by Fderico Moccia in which the young couple locks up a lock on Ponte Miglio in Rome to promise eternal love, after the book, but probbaly much more after the film youngs and girls have started with this silly habit…….

    • That makes it even worse, that it has come from a silly film.

  5. I’m an old mushbag, but I find it romantic. Not sure I’d still find it romantic if it was on my own doorstep, though.. 😉

    • There must be another way of declaring undying love. Some of these love affairs probably don’t last more than a few weeks.

  6. I’m so glad you posted this. I have seen it in MIlan too, but had no idea what it was.

    • I find it very silly and irritating and completely unnecessary.

  7. Silly? Probably, but I have always smiled when found these follish things some lovers do… I think most of them are just sort of romantic gestures.
    Damage? They do affect views, general cleanliness and sometimes even the proper preservation of popular places, and that’s why those are being removed.
    Different romantic gestures are read in different ways, and there are always extreme attitudes… but has happened in many different forms for such a long time… like carving in a tree trunk or painting a graffiti in a wall. Can be considered vandalism but they keep appearing from time to time, in different places.

    • As i have said, just put a lock on your own fence. That way it doesn’t damage other property and cost councils money to remove them.

  8. I saw many locks in Rome when we were there in June. I do not like the idea. There are many ways to promise endless love. I hope that it may go out of fashion soon.

    • Let’s hope it does go out of fashion.

  9. It seems benign compared to spray-painting ‘Charonne 4 Kevvin’ (weird spelling says something about their backgrounds, said he snobbily), but I haven’t yet seen the locks anywhere in plaque proportions.

    Once it became a tired clichĂŠ I’d start tut-tutting.

    • They are in plague proportions in Paris and in Florence and along the Cinque Terre walk. Let’s hope Sydney avoids it.

  10. Okay, I didn’t even realize this was done. Where have I been? Oh, yeah, Haiti. This would only be a problem worth worrying about in the first world, I’m afraid. But there, I’m sure it does irritate. I understand.

    • I know is not life threatening, but it is unnecessary and unsightly.

  11. by the way, my comemnt was posted as mistake, but I have to add that in Rome they had to make them put the locks at other bridges, because the weight became so much that was too dangerous for the very old bridge…

  12. sorry for the mistakes….I was rushing… nut = but; wait = weight…

  13. Cinque Terre-The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the Via Dell’Amore (“Love Walk”) between these 2 towns along the cliff over looking the sea they also have these locks. Seeing it last year was sort of inspiring…Here the tradition states that 1 puts the lock on and the other throws the key into the water… Symbolic I know but if no where else italy is the place for Love and doing silly things and each generation has does something… Throwing coins into a fountain is only 1.. Maybe the italian council in rome doesnt mind that one as they collect over 80,000E a month.. hmmm now if the locks are melted down and not used as land fill maybe it wouldnt be so bad… Love your blog.. V

  14. I found your post interesting. On the issue of locks and spray painting, some young people feel they “own” the world as a public place to express their undying love for sweethearts or paint walls to show their “street art”. One teenage spray-painter explained to me that he considers his art important because it is his personal signature in a public space, and that the ‘public’ space is ‘free’ for all to use and enjoy. Another trend happening in Australia (a sad one) is attaching bunches of flowers on trees, signposts, and any area where a young person or people died in a car crash. It’s a way for young people to express their grief and their love for their friend(s) in a public manner. I see where these people are coming from, and wonder if this is a ‘generational’ thing?
    As for me, I am a ‘purist’ – I like to appreciate the beauty of old history left intact, and give me a rose anytime!

    • I prefer to see these places unadorned.

    • You know Sandra I was wondering the same thing about this thing we do in Adelaide and and flowers … Not seen it anywhere else either and also we are the only ones that put those Black or Red posts up with a cross where there have been multiple road accidents too. So yes we all express ourselves … tagging is most likely the one thing that is more destructive than expressive due to the fact of the space and clean up value…. V

  15. Does it mean lovers are locking their love there? hmmm…

    • No doubt that is the sentiment, but it is a bit lost on me.

  16. Like “realme07”, I also discovered this last year on the cliff walk in Cinque Terre. My cinical thought was that the idea was thought up by an imaginative local locksmith!

    It is much better than “tagging” which costs alot to clean, or cutting initals into the trunk of a tree. A few clicks with a pair of bolt cutters and the problem is solved.

    • I had a little giggle when I first saw it colin as I wondered if the combination locks really meant it was only going to be ‘short term’ fling!… but yah it does cost a lot less than ‘tagging’…

      • I can see that it is easier to remove than spray paint, but it is all pointless to me.

    • It would be interesting advertising for a locksmith – very clever.

  17. People seem to have a need tp leave their mark. An outback sand track in Western Australia people leave their thongs (flip flops or slippers to others not undies) on a fence for miles. There but be tens of thousands. People trow their sneekers tied together over powerlines. People paint on walls and trains etc. or scratch the windows of busses. Maybe society should dedicate a place in every city where people can leave their mark, fence it off so only those who want to see it can.

    • Most people like to copy other people, whether it is clothes, food, texting, mannerisms, speech patterns. Kids do it to be part of their tribe, to differentiate themselves from older people, older people copy the kids, the kids do something else and it all moves fast these days. I haven’t seen these but now I have on your blog and if I had liked the idea (which I didn’t particularly) I might have been inspired to attach a padlock somewhere. I think they look ugly but I can understand that some people think they are romantic.

      • What is wrong with being an individual?

    • I like the idea of a special place where people can leave their mark. In Brisbane people have been invited to paint those boxes that cover electrical stuff (I think that’s what they are) and they look great. Within reason I think you are allowed to paint what you want and it makes a boring item look interesting. Creative lock walls are what we need.

      • I had heard of this and quite liked the idea. The boxes that is.
        Not so sure about the padlocks though, although it’s really interesting reading everyones mixed responses on it.

      • I can see that some people might think this is romantic. I don’t. Perhaps special places for locks would be good. I think it looks really ugly and spoils some of these beautiful places.

  18. In a way its vandalism but I thought they appear more like an Art form. Oh no, am I in trouble for saying that? Maybe should place a section where people can hang those padlock of love. Romance will never die and this problem will continue for as long as people wants to express those feelings or make a statement. A fine or 24/7 camera might deter vandals though….cool post and images!

    • I am happy to hear your opinion. Obviously a lot of people think this is wonderful. Why not just plant a tree or a rosebush to declare your love?

  19. I have seen this padlock thing taking over in a few places but personally think it is defacing public property. Imagaine if it were allowed to grow all over Europe on all the wonderful gates and fences. No. Let it be stopped now.
    Di Cant

    • I hope it doesn’t spread too far.

  20. Hi Debra,

    On a recent holiday down in NSW at Katoomba (Blue Mountains), I noticed quite a few padlocks attached to the railing of the main scenic lookout at Echo Point.

    At the time I didn’t understand why they were there – but now I do !

    It looks like this has become a worldwide trend.
    Regards, Bob

  21. Maybe I’m getting old, but I feel it represents lack of respect for property. A representation of love comes in all different shapes and sizes. Try adopting a homeless pet and show it love.

    • I’m with you Joan. Nice to hear from you, it’s been a while.

  22. Everyone has their own way of expressing their affection, but not everyone understands.

  23. […] as romantic, claiming the padlocks are eyesores and haved removed quite a lot of them. Debra from Bagni di Lucca and Beyond recently wrote about this trend that is occuring in many countries, questioning whether it is a […]

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