The capital's police on Monday released a photograph of the visitors and called on foreign consulates to help find those responsible for “this illegal and outrageous behaviour”.
The tourists, believed to be English speakers, were spotted on Sunday afternoon frolicking in one of the fountains next to the Altare della Patria – “Altar of the Fatherland” – in Piazza Venezia, in the heart of historic Rome.
Stripped off to their underwear, two young men were filmed splashing in the water while their companions dipped their feet and took photos. One of the pair even lowered his briefs to pose naked.
The incident was caught on camera by a Russian tour guide, Maxim Maleckij, who told Il Messaggero that he watched for around ten minutes without seeing any authorities intervene, despite the fact that bathing in any of Rome's fountains is strictly forbidden.
Alerted to the incident, the police said that they were doing all they could to trace the offending bathers, whose actions “gravely offend national feeling and the memory of the fallen to whom the monument is dedicated”.
Also known as Il Vittoriano, the imposing monument honours the first king of unified Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, as well as those killed fighting for their country. It is at the heart of annual war commemorations as well as Italy's Republic Day.
Rome's city ordinances prohibit behaviour that damages or disrespects its famous landmarks, which can be anything from trespassing on monuments to writing graffiti to picnicking. Yet though bad manners are punishable by fines of several hundred euros, authorities face an uphill battle to catch and identify all those who break the rules – especially during peak holiday season.
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Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP