Two American women have been reprimanded for vandalizing Rome’s Colosseum. The pair aged, 21 and 25, carved their initials into the stone with a coin and took a selfie with the damaged wall. If charged, the women could face a sizable fine.
The majority of the six million people that visit the Colosseum every year are well behaved, however, and despite several signs in Italian and English informing visitors that defacing the ancient site is strictly prohibited, tourists routinely cause damage to the historic monument.
A spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome told the Guardian that visitors view the Colosseum differently from other heritage sites. “There’s a difference in perception. Museums are treated like churches, sacred places where there are things of great value. Whereas the Colosseum is an incomplete building which has already been robbed.”
Roman centurion impersonator Antonio Camertoni lamented, “It’s a piece of cultural heritage. They don’t do it at home, but they do it here.”
Danish holidaymaker Johnny Hansen called for harsh penalties, “Everyone should have respect for it,” he said. “They should be fined to make an example. It’s heritage, so you must protect it.”
Some have argued that vast number of visitors makes it almost virtually impossible to prevent a minority of disrespectful visitors from damaging the Colosseum. Recent funding cuts have also made it harder to catch rule-breakers.
The Colosseum is currently undergoing a €25 million ($34 million) refurbishment, funded by the luxury group Tod’s