The UK tourist who carved his name and that of his girlfriend into the Colosseum has offered a very odd explanation for defacing one of the most recognisable monuments in the world.
Ivan Dimitrov, a 27-year-old Bulgarian-born fitness trainer living in England, was identified by Italian police as the culprit behind the vandalism after a five-day search.
Dimitrov penned a letter to Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri begging for forgiveness, after he allegedly used a key to etch “Ivan + Hayley 23” into the 2000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site last month.
The note was published in Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero, on Wednesday.
Dimitrov claimed he did not know how old the Colosseum was until it was too late, and I don’t think not knowing how old something is makes it okay to deface it TBH.
“It is with deep embarrassment that only after what regrettably happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument,” Dimitrov wrote.
The ill-informed tourist wrote that only now did he realise “the seriousness of the deed committed”.
“Through these lines I would like to address my heartfelt and honest apologies to the Italians and to the whole world for the damage caused to an asset which, in fact, is the heritage of all humanity,” Dimitrov said.
His lawyer, Alexandro Maria Tirelli, painted his client as a run-of-the-mill ignorant tourist.
“The boy is the prototype of the foreigner who frivolously believes that anything is allowed in Italy, even the type of act which in their own countries would be severely punished,” Tirelli told Il Messaggero.
Perhaps tourists should start brushing up on the history of the place they are visiting so we no longer have people defacing Heritage Sites willy nilly.
ICYMI: late last month, a Reddit user /u/regenerate_life uploaded a video of a tourist who was carving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend onto one of the walls of the World Heritage Site.
In the video, entitled “Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome”, the Reddit user can be heard confronting the tourist, saying, “are you serious man?” before walking off and calling him a “stupid asshole”.
During the short confrontation, the tourist simply turned to the camera and smiled before going back to his DIY art project on the iconic Colosseum wall.
Since /u/regenerate_life’s video went viral, the user revealed that he did report the incident to staff but they “sadly didn’t seem too bothered” to stop the man.
According to Italian news agency ANSA, the man reportedly etched the words “Ivan + Hayley 23/6/23” with a set of keys.
Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano condemned the tourist’s behaviour on Twitter, calling for the man to be “identified and sanctioned”.
“I consider it very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility that a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, the Colosseum,” he wrote.
ABC News reported that Tourist Minister Daniela Santanchè also hoped for the tourist to be sanctioned for his actions.
“We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way,” she said.
Italian officials say the tourist risks at least a €15,000 (AUD $24,808) fine and imprisonment for up to five years, per ANSA.
Unfortunately for this historic icon, this is not the first time that someone has carved something onto its walls.
In 2020, a 32-year-old Irish tourist was accused of carving his initials into the Colosseum.
And in 2014, a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 (AUD $33,084 at the time of writing) for carving the letter “K” on the Colosseum’s brick work, per CNN.
I feel like it won’t be long until tourists get banned from visiting this World Heritage Site.