Manuchar Kublashvili, 34, plucked three small tiles from a mosaic at the Domus di Trittolemo house in Pompeii, Il Secolo XIX said on Wednesday.
He reportedly gave chase after being spotted by police, ditching two of the stolen pieces before being caught. The third mosaic tile was found in his trouser pocket, while the discarded pieces were recovered by staff at Pompeii.
In an attempt to justify his looting of Italy’s world-renowned ancient site, Kublashvili reportedly told police he “wanted to take a memory of Pompeii home”.
The house he allegedly looted was built more than two thousand years ago, in the second century BC, and preserved after the site was buried by a devastating volcanic eruption in 79AD.
The booty was returned to the archaeological director, while it is unclear whether the tourist will face charges for the attempted theft.
The Georgian was, however, not the first tourist to be caught behaving badly in Italy this year. In March, a Canadian tourist was caught stuffing an ancient brick into her bag at Rome’s Colosseum. She reportedly wanted to take a “unique” souvenir home.