An Irish tourist has run himself headfirst into trouble in Rome after he was reportedly caught carving his name – and his girlfriend’s – into the Colosseum.
It is said that he had been making his carvings, which were six-centimetre-tall initials, with a metal point – possibly his keys – and gouged into a pillar of the 2000-year-old historic monument.
The inscription, dedicated to himself and his partner, reportedly read “Ivan+Haley 23”.
The Carabinieri police have claimed that the 32-year-old man was caught by private security at the World Heritage Site, and that social media videos of the incident alerted police to the alleged crime.
The man has been accused of damaging the historical landmark, the Carabinieri confirmed to CNN, with the act considered to be a crime under Italian law.
The Colosseum is one of the seven wonders of the modern world, and also a World Heritage Site, and Italy’s Minister of Culture has called for the tourist to be “identified and sanctioned”.
“I consider it 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 fiancée,” he tweeted, along with footage of the incident. “I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws.”
He later uploaded another video, accompanied by the scathing caption “Tourist scars the Colosseum.”
Reputo gravissimo, indegno e segno di grande inciviltà, che un turista sfregi uno dei luoghi più celebri al mondo, il Colosseo, per incidere il nome della sua fidanzata. Spero che chi ha compiuto questo gesto venga individuato e sanzionato secondo le nostre leggi. pic.twitter.com/p8Jss1GWuY
— Gennaro Sangiuliano (@g_sangiuliano) June 26, 2023
If the man is convicted, he faces a penalty of at least €2,065 (~$3,370.7) and up to one year in prison, according to CNN.
And it isn’t the first time the Colosseum has been defaced by those seeking to carve out their place in history, with a Russian tourist facing a fine of €20,000 for carving the letter “K”.
It’s a serious offence in the hearts of many, with archaeologist Federica Rinaldi – who is responsible for the ancient amphitheatre – telling the publication that “the Colosseum, like any monument that represents the history of all of us, must be preserved and handed over to future generations.”
“It is a monument that deserves everyone’s respect because it belongs to everyone, and it must remain so,” Rinaldi added.
“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!”
This article first appeared on Over60.