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15 July, 2024
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Tourist carves names on Colosseum

Accused vandal expresses remorse for damaging monument

Source: The Guardian

An English tourist accused of defacing the Colosseum has said he was not aware of the age of the ancient monument.

Ivan Dimitrov, a 27-year-old fitness instructor living in Bristol, wrote a letter of apology to the Rome mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, after allegedly engraving his and his girlfriend’s names into an internal wall of the 2,000-year-old landmark with a key.

In the letter, Dimitrov, who was traced by Italian police to England after a five-day search, wrote that only now did he realize “the seriousness of the deed committed”.

“Through these lines, I would like to address my heartfelt and honest apologies to the Italians and the whole world for the damage caused to an asset which is the heritage of all humanity,” he added in the letter published in Il Messaggero on Wednesday.

Dimitrov, who faces a hefty fine and possible prison term, praised those who “guard the inestimable historical and artistic value of the Colosseum with dedication, care and sacrifice”, before adding: “It is with deep embarrassment that only after what regrettably happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument.”

The Roman amphitheater, completed under Emperor Titus in AD80, is where gladiators would fight against each other and wild animals in vicious combats viewed by thousands of spectators.

Dimitrov, wearing a blue flowery shirt, was allegedly filmed by an onlooker scratching “Ivan + Hayley 23” into the wall of the monument.

The video of the scene, titled “Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome”, was uploaded to YouTube before being widely shared across social media, alerting police to the incident and prompting widespread condemnation.

Dimitrov is being investigated for damaging a cultural heritage asset and, if convicted, faces a fine of between €2,500 and €15,000 as well as a prison sentence of two to five years. His girlfriend, Hayley, is not under investigation although she could be considered an “accessory”, Italian media reported.

Dimitrov’s lawyer, Alexandro Maria Tirelli, told Il Messaggero: “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.”

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