Tourist ‘caught signing his own name’ on ancient building which survived volcanic eruption

By Staff

A 27-year-old Dutch tourist has been arrested after he was allegedly caught graffitiing his ‘tag’ on an ancient wall belonging to a Roman building that survived the 79AD Mount Vesuvius eruption

A Dutch tourist has been arrested after allegedly vandalising an ancient Roman building, near Pompeii in Italy.

The unnamed 27-year-old was detained on Monday after staff found graffiti on the wall of an ancient Roman building in black permanent marker. The tourist now faces charges of damage and defacement of artistic works, police said in a statement.

The incident occurred on Sunday (June 2) at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was also Italy’s Festa della Repubblica national holiday – a day when state-run museums and archaeological sites open for free to the public, the Independent reported.

Italian culture minister Gennaro Sanguiliano said: “Once again our cultural heritage is the victim of incivility and idiocy… Yesterday it was the turn of a Roman domus in the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum, defaced by a tourist with a permanent marker.” According to police, the graffiti was identified as the arrested man’s tag.

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“Any damage is a wound to our heritage, our beauty and our identity and that is why it must be sanctioned with the utmost firmness,” added Gennaro.

Italian authorities have recently toughened the penalties on people who damage the country’s monuments and cultural sites. Fines have increased from €15,000 (£12,770) to €40,000 (£34,000) for those found guilty.

Located near the Mount Vesuvius crater, not far from Naples, the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum was buried under 16 metres of ash and mud when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. Despite the eruption, the homes and their interiors were kept intact.

Just a few weeks ago the State Police of Caserta reported that a man had defaced the façade of the Royal Palace of Caserta by writing in spray paint. The Palace, which is also located close to Naples, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Last year, a British tourist was also caught scratching his girlfriend’s name with a key, on an internal wall of the Colosseum in Italy’s capital, Rome. A video of a man wearing a flowery shirt appearing to use a key to scratch his and a woman’s monikers into the 1,900 year-old landmark went viral.

It is not the first time the monument has been damaged in recent years. Back in 2014 a tourist was fined 20,000 euros (approximately £17,000) after allegedly scratching their initials into the wall of the Colosseum.

A year later in a separate incident, two women were arrested in Rome after allegedly scratching their initials into the wall of the Colosseum and taking a selfie. The women were accused of using a coin to engrave the letters J and N into the historic site. Police charged them with “aggravated damage on a building of historical and artistic interest”.

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