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Tourist Sparks Outrage After Carving His And His Fiancée's Names Into Rome's Colosseum

The man could face a fine and jail time after he was caught on video using a key to carve 'Ivan+Hayley 23' into the 2,000-year-old Colosseum in Rome.

unidentified man carves "Ivan+Hayley 23" in the Colosseum in Rome as his significant other watches

An as-yet unidentified tourist was filmed carving his and his fiancée's names into a brick of the Colosseum in Rome. The video was then widely shared online, to much general outrage.

The Colosseum is a World Heritage Site.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

"World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy."

It is quite common for students to learn about the Colosseum and other World Heritage Sites in school because of that "outstanding universal value to humanity," so it is quite unlikely the person carving their names into the wall wasn't aware of the importance of preserving such a historical location.

You can see the video here:

Ryan Litz—the tourist from California who confronted and filmed the vandal—spoke out about what happened.

Litz told the Associated Press he was the one who filmed the video and he approached the couple and called out the man.

He said he was astonished by the defacement of such an important historical site and confronted the man to ask him what he was doing.

The man didn't have a good answer, though.

"I kind of approach him and ask him, dumbfounded at this point, ‘Are you serious? Are you really serious? And all he could do is like smile at me."

Litz said he uploaded the video only after he approached a security guard and informed them of what had happened and identified the vandal, but security didn't do anything.

The man in the video is far from the first to deface the walls of the Colosseum.

According to CNN, an Irish tourist carved his initials into the walls and a Russian tourist was fined 20,000 Euros for carving the letter "K" into the bricks in 2014.

Italy's Minister of Tourism, Daniela Santanche, told Italy24 she hoped the vandal would be sanctioned "so that he fully understands the seriousness of the act."

"I consider what happened at the Colosseum very serious. I hope the tourist is sanctioned so that he fully understands the seriousness of the act. We need respect for our history and culture. We cannot allow those who come to visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way."

While the tourist may not have known (or cared) that carving graffiti into the walls of the Colosseum was unacceptable, plenty of people on Twitter thought it was obvious.

Italy's Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, also called for the tourist to be identified and sanctioned for the action.

He tweeted [electronic translation by DeepL]:

"I consider it extremely serious, undignified and a sign of great incivility that a tourist would deface one of the most famous places in the world, the Colosseum, to carve his girlfriend's name."
"I hope that whoever carried out this act will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws."

The mayor of Rome, Roberto Gualtieri, also called for the vandal to face legal consequences—calling the vandalism of a World Heritage Site "uncivilized and senseless."

"It is truly an uncivilized and senseless gesture to deface the Colosseum with keys, a symbol of Rome and a World Heritage Site."
"We strongly condemn this barbaric behavior which offends the whole city and the whole world. I hope that the person responsible will be sanctioned as he deserves."

Not defacing historical sites seems like the obvious choice, but some tourists just aren't getting the memo, apparently.