There was the Russian tourist in 2014, two Americans in 2015, then a French and an Ecuadorian in 2017, and now it’s a visitor from Ireland. These tourists have all been caught defacing the almost 2,000-year-old largest amphitheater in the world, Rome’s Colosseum.
In the latest incident last Monday, the private security team at the Italian landmark spotted a 32-year-old man from Ireland carving two initials approximately two inches high into a first-floor pillar using a metal point.
"The Colosseum, like any monument that represents the history of all of us, must be preserved and handed over to future generations," the Parco Colosseo’s Federica Rinaldi, told CNN, adding: "Carving one's initials, in addition to being a crime, seems to be a gesture of those who want to appropriate the monument. Better take a selfie!"
The crime could be fined with up to a year in prison or up to $2,400, according to CNN.
International tourists have long tried to make their mark in stone at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 2014, a 42-year-old Russian tourist was fined $24,000 after a guard caught him using a pointed stone to carve a 10-inch tall letter “K” into the historical relic. That was the fifth incident that year, according to the Associated Press. The following year, two Americans apologized after they were seen on camera carving a “J” and an “N” into the Colosseum, according to the Washington Post.
Then, in February 2017, a French woman doubled down on vandalizing historical items by using an ancient coin to carve her name and the year, “Sabrina 2017.” Two months later, an Ecuadorian visitor etched his wife and child’s name.
After that incident, Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, tweeted: “Rome deserves respect. Whoever wounded the Colosseum wounded all Romans and all those who love the city.”
The Colosseum was closed for three months as the coronavirus pandemic spread through Italy and reopened in June. And it’s not the only ancient landmark to get defaced after reopening. When the Great Wall of China allowed tourists on March 24 after a two-month closure, a tourist was caught on camera vandalizing the wall using a key — on the very first day of reopening.
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