Outrage in Rome after tourist filmed carving his and girlfriend’s names into Colosseum

‘I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 29 June 2023 07:54 BST
Tourist carves his name into Colosseum in Rome

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Italy’s culture and tourism ministers have vowed to identify and punish a tourist filmed carving names into a wall of the Rome’s Colosseum – a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines.

Video of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists flooding the city in record numbers this season.

An English-speaking man was recorded scratching “Ivan + Hayley 23” into a brick at the nearly 2000-year-old monument on Friday with a key.

The suspect, who is yet to be identified, turned around and grinned as a bystander asked: “Are you serious, man?”

Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano shared the video, calling it a “very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility that a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, the Colosseum, to engrave the name of his fiancee.”

“I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws,” he added.

Tourism minister Daniela Santanche also said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned “so that he understands the gravity of the gesture.” Calling for respect for Italy’s culture and history, she vowed: “We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way.”

If convicted, the man could face a fine of at least €15,000 (£12,866) and even a possible prison sentence.

Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum, said the carabinieri were tracking down the suspect and “we will see if we can get him.”

Italians criticised the tourist on social media, accusing him of “absolutely despicable behaviour”.

“Americans always think they have ownership over everything they set foot on,” wrote one Twitter user.

However, this isn't the first time that tourists have been fined for defacing the Unesco world heritage site.

In 2014, a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 (£17,000) for engraving a “K” on a wall, and given a suspended four-year jail sentence.

The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument.

Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics bureau ISTAT, has said 2023 is shaping up as a record for visitors to Italy, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels that hit a high in 2019.

The Colosseum was the Roman Empire’s biggest amphitheatre and remains Italy’s most popular tourist attraction.

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