An American tourist has accidentally snapped the finger off a priceless 14th century statue in Florence.
The unnamed man was reportedly spotted by a security guard as he began touching the statue and trying to measure its finger, but attempts to stop him came too late and the digit broke off.
The incident took place in the Italian city’s world famous Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, with the 600-year-old exhibit believed to be the work of eminent medieval sculptor Giovanni d'Ambrogio.
The tourist is said to have apologised for damaging the priceless artwork, but could still receive a large fine for his careless behaviour.
Before any financial penalty can be arranged, however, the American tourist has suffered the full force of Florentine fury over the incident, which locals consider symptomatic of a modern thoughtless and disrespectful attitude towards fragile ancient artworks.
Timothy Verdun, the head of the museum and coincidentally an American himself, condemned the tourist’s behaviour, saying: “In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’”.
Mr Verdun confirmed that the broken finger was not original to the piece, and had been added at a later date. He added that the price of any repair was not yet known and that, even if it was considered affordable, there was no guarantee that the restoration would be a success.