Just weeks after a tourist was filmed carving his and his girlfriend’s names onto the Colosseum wall, another similar incident was stopped mid-act at Rome’s ancient amphitheatre. This time, a 17-year-old Swiss, on holiday with her parents, was trying to leave a mark on the monument, only managing to scribble down the letter N.
Another tourist pointed out what she was doing to David Battaglino, a tour guide who was showing around a group of visitors. The man started filming the teenager while continuing his explanation to the group, so he could get the act on film without drawing the girl’s attention. The crowd however erupted in a sarcastic applause, after which the girl smiled and returned to her parents.
It is the first time I have managed to film an act of vandalism at the Colosseum but in six years I have seen dozens, some even tear off parts of the wall. They even spat on me once for scolding a boy.David Battaglino, Rome tour guide
The guide then went to the girl’s parents to inform them what their daughter did was illegal, but they shrugged it off with a “She’s just a kid, she wasn’t doing anything wrong”, Battaglino told Repubblica Roma. He proceeded to photograph the family and report the incident to the supervisors at the Colosseum.
The three were taken into the police station at Piazza Venezia for interrogation. Following the investigation, they not only face a fine of up to €15,000, but the teenager also risks prison from 2 to 5 years for vandalising cultural property.
“Those who cause damage will pay”, Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano said after Ivan Dimitrov, a 27-year-old Bulgarian fitness instructor based in Bristol, was also caught carving on the landmark’s wall less than a month prior. ” It was an act that offended all those who, throughout the world, appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history”, the minister added.
“The attacks on monuments and artistic sites produce economic damage to all,” Sangiuliano explained in a statement. “To clean it up, the intervention of highly specialized personnel and the use of very costly machines are needed. Whoever carries out these acts must also assume the financial responsibility.”
Facing the same charges of fine and imprisonment, Dimitrov sent an apologetic letter to Roberto Gualtieri, the Mayor of Rome, saying he was unaware of the antiquity of the monument or the seriousness of the act he had committed. “What nonsense and what a surreal letter. What level of education does this man have not to know the significance of the Colosseum?”, a Rome city councillor commented on the letter.