Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has condemned a tourist who was filmed scratching his name on a wall at the ancient Colosseum site in Rome.
In a video posted online, a man is seen using a set of keys to carve the words “Ivan + Hayley 23”. The video was uploaded to the Youtube channel @rytz5873 on 24 June with the title "Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome 6-23-23". It is unclear who shot the footage but a voice can be heard saying: “Are you fucking serious, man?”
Italian authorities have identified a suspect, an English tourist named Ivan who lives in Bristol and works as a fitness trainer. If found guilty, he risks a fine of up to €15,000 or a prison sentence. According to The Guardian, Italian authorities will send a note to the man's address in England informing him that he is under investigation.
Sangiuliano wrote on Twitter: “I consider it very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility when a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, the Colosseum, engraving the name of his fiancée. I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws.”
In a statement, he later added: "I am grateful to the carabinieri for having promptly identified the alleged perpetrator of the uncivilised and absurd act committed at the Colosseum. An act that has offended all those throughout the world who appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history. Now I hope that justice will take its course by rigorously applying the laws. If it comes to a trial, the Ministry of Culture will appear as a civil party."
Alfonsina Russo, the director of the 2,000-year-old site, told The Times that the offender had vandalised a wall built in about 1840 during a restoration effort, rather than the original brickwork, but insisted the episode was no less serious. He added that the carabinieri (Italian police) are trying to track down the individual.
The vandalism incident is the latest in a string of defacements at the ancient Roman amphitheatre; in 2014 a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 for carving the letter “K” on a section of brickwork. In 2018, the then culture minister, Alberto Bonisoli, announced plans to double the number of security cameras at the site to 100; Colosseum officials did not respond to a request for comment about the plans. In 2018, 7.4 million people visited the Colosseum.