Colosseum Vandal Has an Odd Excuse

Ivan Dimitrov, 31, of Bristol, England, claims he didn't realize how old the Rome landmark was
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2023 9:13 AM CDT
Tourist Says Sorry for Marring Colosseum
Stock photo of the Colosseum in Rome.   (Getty Images/Anton Aleksenko)

A tourist from the UK who was tracked down after etching the names of himself and his girlfriend into Rome's famous Colosseum has been fully identified and is now offering his apologies. "I admit with deepest embarrassment that it was only after what regrettably happened that I learned of the monument's antiquity" is 31-year-old Ivan Dimitrov's defense, as expressed in a Tuesday letter he says he sent to various officials in Rome, per the New York Times. The "surreal" note, which was published in part by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, goes on to say that Dimitrov now gets the "seriousness of the deed I committed," and of "the damage done to a monument, which is, in fact, heritage of all humanity."

Antiquities aficionados will be relieved to know that the part of the Colosseum defaced by Dimitrov was actually part of a mid-19th-century renovation, not of the original nearly 2,000-year-old structure, but that didn't stop Italian cops from doing their due diligence to track him down. Police commander Roberto Martina says they found Dimitrov, from the English city of Bristol, and his girlfriend, Hayley Bracey, by searching for registered guests in Rome, then acquiring his cellphone number from records at the Airbnb where they'd stayed. "He told us he was very upset by what he had done, and he kept apologizing for it," Martina says, per Euronews. "He was naturally worried about the legal implications."

Dimitrov's attorney is apparently taking the "he was just a dumb tourist and didn't mean anything by it" stance. "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," Alexandro Maria Tirelli says, per the Guardian. Locals don't seem to be buying that, with one news anchor on Rai 1 state TV calling it "a somewhat unbelievable excuse," per the Times. Tirelli adds that he hopes for a plea bargain in which Dimitrov can avoid jail time. The Brit faces between two to five years behind bars and a fine of up to about $16,000. Martina notes that Bracey isn't part of the current investigation, "although technically, she could be seen as an accessory," per Euronews. (More Colosseum stories.)

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