For many, the greatest attraction they can think of when it comes to the wondrous city of Rome, Italy, is the famed Roman Colosseum. The ancient site sees a plethora of travelers exploring its ruins, at last report upwards of six million yearly. But it now faces a new problem in addition to its crumbling architecture.
This problem has raised its head once more in the recent arrest of two tourists who were caught defacing a section of the Colosseum this past Saturday. The two young women from California, aged 21 and 25, had apparently sneaked away from the tour group they entered the complex with to carve their initials into a wall. After carving “J” & “N” with a coin into the amphitheater wall, they then proceeded to take a ‘selfie’ depicting their handiwork. Police on site swiftly nabbed the amateur taggers and issued them a citation. The two will now have to go before a judge and can expect to possibly pay a penalty for the crime. This incident comes after a string of similar situations that took place last year at the ancient site. Those involved tourists from Australia, Brazil, and Canada. The most egregious incident involved a Russian man who was nabbed carving a giant letter, reported at 9 inches in length into part of the Colosseum. The 42-year old was hit with a four month prison sentence that was suspended, along with a significantly hefty fine of US$25,000. At last report, he hasn’t paid the fine off yet due to economic hardship.
This latest stunt has led to Romans being considerably outraged. The section damaged by the two American women is a space that had seen restoration in the 1800’s as decreed by the Pope at the time. The security around the Colosseum has been an issue of late, partly because there have been more efforts towards countering any terrorist attacks since threats by the Islamic State were levied against the city last year. There have been increases in the amount of security personnel, but this has also been coupled with cuts to staff at the historical site. A spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archeological Heritage of Rome feels a difference in how the Colosseum is seen as compared to other sites may be behind the spike in the amount of these incidents. Others, like a man posing as a Roman centurion outside of the site named Antonio Camertoni, feel the same. Camertoni went on to say, “It’s a piece of cultural heritage. They don’t do it at home, but they do it here,’ before expressing that perhaps the Colosseum should be closed to all visitors going forward.