Naked Aussie wanted for Colosseum handstand

An Australian exhibitionist known for naked handstands around the world has been brought to heel by Italian authorities for doing a handstand outside the Colosseum.

Naked Aussie wanted for Colosseum handstand
Australian Jonathan Scholes set up a camera himself and did the handstand outside the Colosseum in April 2013. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Jonathan Scholes, 29, is being prosecuted in Rome for performing “obscene acts in a public place”, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica.

He reportedly set up a camera himself and did the handstand outside the Colosseum in April 2013 . He is now facing charges and is expected to be sentenced by a Rome judge before the end of the year, the Italian daily said.

The red-haired acrobat who calls himself the 'Naked Handstander' has built his controversial reputation by doing handstands in front of diverse locations, from Uluru in central Australia to the Great Wall of China.

He loves to post photos on his blog of himself doing handstands in remote landscapes as well as some of the world’s biggest cities. He says his first naked handstand was in Vik in Iceland in 2009.

The Local was unable to reach him for comment and his website says he is in an “undisclosed” location.

But his philosophy is simple. On his blog, he writes that he wants to “explore the world in all its glory and wonder in the raw” while raising awareness about the environment and consumer waste.

The handstander says he wants “to make people laugh, cry and smile .. and most importantly make people think about the glorious place we live in and what we do to it.”

His blog contains photos of his handstand stunts from around the world, although the one outside the Colosseum is missing.

Italy’s most popular tourist attraction seems to hold a particular appeal for many tourists who want to leave their mark on the ancient ruins, drawing the ire of Italian authorities.

Last year, a 25-year-old man and 26-year-old German woman were caught by security guards carving their whole names into the Colosseum with a coin.

In March last year, a 15-year-old Canadian school girl removed a brick from the Flavian Amphitheater and tried to make off with it in her rucksack as a souvenir.

The penalties for damaging the ancient monument, which is a national symbol of Italy, can be very heavy indeed.

Akaev Kazbek, a 42-year-old Russian tourist was sentenced to four months in jail and fined €20,000 after carving a large letter 'K' into one of the walls of the 2000-year-old amphitheatre. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘High-tech and green’: The new restoration plan for Rome’s Colosseum

Visitors will soon be able to stand in the centre of Rome's famed Colosseum following a revamp using "super technological and green" materials, according to plans unveiled at the weekend.

'High-tech and green': The new restoration plan for Rome's Colosseum
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

As anyone who has ever visited Rome’s Colosseum will know, the arena – where everything from gladiator battles to executions and countless other public spectacles took place – is not accessible.

But that’s about to change, and visitors will soon be able to see the ancient amphitheatre as the gladiators did, with plans to build a high-tech retractable floor over the ruined central area.

The Italian minister of culture announced the winning bid to restore the arena on Sunday, a project that will allow visitors to view the archeological wonder from ground level as soon as 2023. 

The 2,000 year old structure is currently floorless other than a small platform.

Rome’s landmark Colosseum is currently without a floor, other than a small platform, which is occasionally used for concerts. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The ruins of the underground levels’ walls and tunnels are exposed due to a combination of earthquakes, stone pillaging and natural erosion. 

The new floor will also enable these underground chambers, where gladiators and wild animals awaited their ascension to the killing floor, to be properly ventilated for the first time.

A Milan engineering firm beat 10 competitors who answered a 2020 call for submissions with its vision involving rotating wooden slats.

“It is an ambitious project that will help better conserve and safeguard the archaeological structures,” said culture minister Dario Franceschini.

Franceschini plans to host the Rome G20 culture summit at the Colosseum in July and it may serve as a venue for other major cultural events.

The Colosseum’s executive archaeologist Alfonsina Russo said construction of the arena – which will be the subject of a Europe-wide call for bids of about 15 million euros – should begin by the end of the year or early 2022.

She said the new 3,000 square metre (32,300 square foot) floor should be ready for visitors in 2023.

Before the pandemic around 25,000 people toured the world-famous monument daily, and some 18.5 million euros have been set aside for the project.

The plan presented on Sunday consists of an entirely removable structure made of accoya, a modified, durable wood.

The slats will be rigged with a rotation system meant to permit light and air to circulate to underground passages below the area.

The rainwater that currently pools there will be collected and used to supply the toilets of Rome’s most visited monument.