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Tourist charged after carving name into Colosseum

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Tourist charged after carving name into Colosseum
Italian soldiers patrolling in front of the Colosseum on Monday evening. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
09:23 CET+01:00
You'd think tourists would have got the message by now: vandalizing Italy's centuries-old, painstakingly restored cultural monuments is not cool.

But for some reason, some visitors seem unable to resist making their mark on the Eternal City's prized treasures.

A French woman who carved her name into a pillar of Rome's Colosseum was reported to police on Monday, the latest in a series of cases of tourists vandalizing the monument, which recently underwent a multi-million euro makeover.

The 45-year-old faces charges for "aggravated damage to a building of historical and artistic interest", police said. She reportedly used an "ancient coin" to scratch 'Sabrina 2017' on one of the amphitheatre's pilllars, close to the entrance point.

The woman - a traffic warden - was visiting the Roman monument with her young daughter and two nephews. She was taken into police custody shortly afterwards, Italian media reported, and the coin used to make the incision was confiscated.

Earlier this year, concern was raised over vandalism and lax security at the site after two incidents over a single weekend. Two Brazilian tourists illegally entered the amphitheatre at night, and the following morning, workers discovered that unknown vandals had daubed the word 'Morte' (death) in black on one of the marble pillars. 

A bill approved in December introduced a specific offence for defacing or damaging cultural heritage or landscapes, and increased the punishment from a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years' imprisonment.

In the past, judges have come down hard on anyone found vandalizing the Colosseum, with one Russian tourist fined €20,000 for carving a giant 'K' into one of the building's pillars last year.

The past three years have seen 20 people charged for vandalism to the Colosseum, which once hosted grisly gladiator games, and a further ten accused of trespassing on the monument.

This is despite beefed-up security presence and surveillance cameras at the site, as Italy remains at a terror threat level of '2', the highest possible in the absence of a direct attack.

READ MORE: How Italy plans to fight back against monument vandals

How Italy plans to fight back against monument vandals

City authorities clean graffiti from the monument. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

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