Italy vows to find and punish tourist who defaced Colosseum wall

June 29, 2023 - 3:43 PM
People ride electric scooters past the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, September 18, 2020. Picture taken September 18, 2020. (Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo)

 Italian authorities are looking for a tourist who scribbled graffiti on a wall of the Colosseum, with Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano calling for exemplary punishment for the so-far unidentified man.

The tourist was caught in a video, posted on social media on Saturday, scratching his and his girlfriend’s name with a key on an internal wall of the ancient Roman stone amphitheater. He left the inscription “Ivan + Hayley 23”.

He can be seen smiling, even as the author of the video, speaking in English and using swear words, reprimands him.

In a statement released on Monday, Sangiuliano condemned the defacing “of one of the most famous places in the world” as “very serious, unworthy, and a sign of great incivility”.

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

According to the ANSA news agency, the Carabinieri police are investigating, and the man risks a fine of at least 15,000 euros ($16,415) and a jail sentence of up to five years.

Built 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater in the Roman empire and used to host gladiator fights, executions and animal hunts. Today, it is Italy’s most popular tourist attraction.

According to ANSA, the monument has repeatedly suffered acts of vandalism, with dozens of visitors caught in recent years leaving inscriptions or trying to steal stone fragments from the monument. ($1 = 0.9139 euros)

—Reporting by Alvise ArmelliniEditing by Keith Weir