US Tourists Scratch Initials Into Colosseum Wall

They have apologized, saying they didn't realize it was such a serious offense
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2015 6:10 AM CDT
US Tourists Scratch Initials Into Colosseum Wall
A general view of Rome's Colosseum, Friday Nov. 7, 2014. A archaeologist’s proposal to return the Colosseum’s storied arena to its original state, when gladiators sparred with lions, has sparked a lively debate over appropriate uses of the monument that symbolizes the glories of ancient Rome.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Rome's storied Colosseum—an "incomplete building that has already been robbed," as one spokesperson recently put it—is certainly no stranger to depraved behavior, in its prime hosting gladiators fighting to the death and as many as 73,000 unruly spectators. The latest in its storied history are two women from California, reports the Guardian. The women, 21 and 25, managed to break away from their tour group Saturday and use a coin to scratch the initials "J" and "N" about 3 inches high into one of the walls before snapping a selfie. They were, of course, caught, and have since apologized, reports Italian news site La Stampa: "We did not imagine it was something so serious," translates CBS Local. "We’ll remember for a lifetime."

It's unclear whether they will be punished. Last year a Russian, two Australians, a Canadian, and a Brazilian were all caught defacing the monument, though the unruly five tourists comprise an extremely small minority of the site's 6 million annual visitors. "Everyone should have respect for it," a visiting Dutchman told the Guardian. "They should be fined to make an example. It’s heritage, so you must protect it." Security is high right now in the wake of Islamic State threats against Rome, but the newly hired personnel are looking for terrorists, not vandals. (These American sisters got caught taking pictures of their bare butts at a sacred temple.)

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