• Election 2024
  • Entertainment
  • Newsletters
  • Photography
  • Personal Finance
  • AP Investigations
  • AP Buyline Personal Finance
  • AP Buyline Shopping
  • Press Releases
  • Israel-Hamas War
  • Russia-Ukraine War
  • Global elections
  • Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Election Results
  • Delegate Tracker
  • AP & Elections
  • Auto Racing
  • 2024 Paris Olympic Games
  • Movie reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Personal finance
  • Financial Markets
  • Business Highlights
  • Financial wellness
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Social Media

American who filmed tourist carving name in Colosseum dumbfounded as hunt for culprit intensifies

Visitors take photos of the Ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Italy's culture and tourism ministers Gennaro Sangiuliano vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and his girlfriend's name in the wall of the Colosseum, a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines. Video of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists returning to peak season travel this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Visitors take photos of the Ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Italy’s culture and tourism ministers Gennaro Sangiuliano vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and his girlfriend’s name in the wall of the Colosseum, a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines. Video of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists returning to peak season travel this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Visitors walk past the Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Italy’s culture and tourism ministers Gennaro Sangiuliano vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and his girlfriend’s name in the wall of the Colosseum, a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines. Video of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists returning to peak season travel this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Visitors stand in a line to enter the ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Italy’s culture and tourism ministers Gennaro Sangiuliano vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and his girlfriend’s name in the wall of the Colosseum, a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines. Video of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists returning to peak season travel this year. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

  • Copy Link copied

ROME (AP) — Italy’s culture and tourism ministers have vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend in the wall of the Colosseum in Rome , a crime that resulted in hefty fines in the past.

The message reading “Ivan+Haley 23” appeared on the Colosseum at a time when Romans already were complaining about hordes of tourists flooding the Eternal City in record numbers this season. A fellow tourist, Ryan Lutz, of Orange, California., filmed the incident and posted the video on YouTube and Reddit.

The video received over 1,500 social media views and was picked up by Italian media. Lutz told The Associated Press on Tuesday he was “dumbfounded” that someone would deface such an important monument.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the writing carved into the almost 2,000-year-old Flavian Ampitheater “serious, undignified and a sign of great incivility.” He said he hoped the culprits would be found “and punished according to our laws.”

Italian news agency ANSA noted that the incident marked the fourth time this year that such graffiti was reported at the Colosseum . It said whoever was responsible for the latest episode risked $15,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

A view of the construction site of the new 25.5-kilometer Metro C subway main hub in Piazza Venezia in central Rome, Thursday, May 23, 2024. During a tour Thursday of the construction site at Piazza Venezia, chief engineer Andrea Sciotti said works on the nearly 3 billion euro project, considered one of the most complicated in the world, were running at pace to be completed by 2034. In the background the Unknown Soldier monument. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned “so that he understands the gravity of the gesture.” Calling for respect for Italy’s culture and history , she vowed: “We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way.”

Lutz, who is on a two-month backpacking trip through Europe, said he had just finished a guided tour of the Colosseum on Friday when he saw the person “blatantly carving his name” in the Colosseum wall. Lutz told the AP he took out his phone to film the man because he was so shocked at what he was doing.

“And as you see in the video, I kind of approach him and ask him, dumbfounded at this point, ‘Are you serious? Are you really serious?’” Lutz recalled. “And all he could do is like smile at me.”

Lutz, a recent graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, said he tried to get a guard to take action, but neither the guard nor his supervisor did anything, even after Lutz identified the man and offered to share the video.

He said he decided to post the video online the following morning, after he had calmed down. While saying he appreciates graffiti and art, “carving your name seems like a pretty selfish act.” He said visitors to foreign countries cannot repay their hosts “with blatant disrespect like this.”

Outside the Colosseum on Tuesday, other visitors agreed.

“We have to preserve what we have,” said Diego Cruz, an American student. “There is a rich history here. It helps us learn from the past.

Güldamla Ozsema, a computer engineer visiting from Turkey, said his country also had difficulty protecting its monuments from disrespectful tourists.

“I really get angry with them, with this behavior,” Ozsema said.

Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics bureau ISTAT, has said 2023 is shaping up as a record for visitors to Italy, surpassing pre-pandemic levels that hit a high in 2019.

In 2014, a Russian tourist was fined 20,000 euros ($25,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence for engraving a big letter ‘K’ on a wall of the Colosseum.

The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument.

Associated Press journalist Nicole Winfield contributed to this report.

This version corrects the last name of the American who filmed the incident to Lutz, not Litz.

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

UK Edition Change

  • UK Politics
  • News Videos
  • Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Rugby Union
  • Sport Videos
  • John Rentoul
  • Mary Dejevsky
  • Andrew Grice
  • Sean O’Grady
  • Photography
  • Theatre & Dance
  • Culture Videos
  • Fitness & Wellbeing
  • Food & Drink
  • Health & Families
  • Royal Family
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Car Insurance Deals
  • Lifestyle Videos
  • UK Hotel Reviews
  • News & Advice
  • Simon Calder
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • South America
  • C. America & Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • Politics Explained
  • News Analysis
  • Today’s Edition
  • Home & Garden
  • Broadband deals
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Travel & Outdoors
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Sustainable Living
  • Climate Videos
  • Solar Panels
  • Behind The Headlines
  • On The Ground
  • Decomplicated
  • You Ask The Questions
  • Binge Watch
  • Travel Smart
  • Watch on your TV
  • Crosswords & Puzzles
  • Most Commented
  • Newsletters
  • Ask Me Anything
  • Virtual Events
  • Betting Sites
  • Online Casinos
  • Wine Offers

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in Please refresh your browser to be logged in

What happened to the tourist accused of carving his name into Rome Colosseum wall?

Ivan dimitrov, a 27-year-old fitness instructor living in bristol, faces up to five years in prison and a €15,000 fine after being filmed defacing 2,000-year-old amphitheatre of world historical importance, article bookmarked.

Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile

Breaking News

For free real time breaking news alerts sent straight to your inbox sign up to our breaking news emails

Sign up to our free breaking news emails, thanks for signing up to the breaking news email.

The British tourist who attracted outrage in Rome after being accused of carving his name into the Colosseum walls with a key is facing up to five years in prison and a €15,000 (£12,850) fine .

The man – identified as Ivan Dimitrov , a 27-year-old fitness instructor and delivery driver resident in Bristol but originally from Bulgaria – was visiting Italy’s Eternal City with his girlfriend Hayley Bracey when he was filmed scratching “Ivan + Hayley 23” into the ancient stone walls of the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre.

The venue, a protected Unesco World Heritage site , was constructed during the reigns of the emperors Vespasian and Titus in the first century AD. It attracted the Roman public to see spectacular gladiatorial bouts, historical reenactments and parades of exotic wild animals imported from Africa and the Middle East, including elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes, lions, leopards, panthers and ostriches.

The act of vandalism was caught on camera by another visitor, Californian Ryan Lutz, who was incensed by the incident and asked “Are you serious, man?”. He then uploaded the footage to YouTube under the title “A****** tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome”, where it promptly went viral.

The Italian Carabinieri responded to the video and quickly identified Mr Dimitrov as their suspect, with Major Roberto Martina telling the media he had expressed “sincere remorse” for his actions when confronted.

British tourist who carved name into Colosseum begs for forgiveness

“He told us he was very upset by what he had done, and he kept apologising for it,” Major Martina told Mail Online .

“I think he was worried about the consequences of any trial and we explained that he could be jailed for between two and five years and be fined up to €15,000,” he said.

The major went on to say he believed the case would be reasonably straightforward to prosecute because of the video evidence.

“He had contacted us after we secured his mobile telephone from hotel records and left a message for him to call us,” Major Martina said of the Carabineri’s investigation.

“He was naturally worried about the legal implications, and these were all explained to him.

“We didn’t ask him why he did it, that will be for a judge to hear, we just told him that he was a suspect and was part of the investigation.”

The officer added that Ms Bracey “is not part of any complaint so is an innocent party as far as we are concerned”, adding: “Although technically, she could be seen as an accessory.”

The Colosseum in Rome

Italian culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano thanked the police for identifying the suspect of the “uncivilised and absurd act committed at the Colosseum”.

“It was an act that offended those around the world who appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history,” he said.

“Now I hope justice will take its course by rigorously applying the laws.”

This is not the first such incident at the Colosseum.

A Russian tourist was given a suspended four-year jail sentence and fined €20,000 (£17,000) in 2014 for engraving a “K” on its walls.

The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they likewise carved their names into its stones.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Subscribe to Independent Premium to bookmark this article

Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.

New to The Independent?

Or if you would prefer:

Want an ad-free experience?

Hi {{indy.fullName}}

  • My Independent Premium
  • Account details
  • Help centre
  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

A graffiti filled bathroom in New York

‘I woz here!’ Why do tourists keep defacing the Colosseum?

Visitors have been caught carving their names into one of the world’s most famous buildings. Is this the best way to achieve immortality? And where do toilets fit in?

Name: Bad graffiti.

Age: At least since someone carved “I hope your piles again become sore” on a wall in Pompeii almost 2,000 years ago.

Appearance: Very rarely appropriate.

Graffiti is such an eyesore. I couldn’t disagree more. Graffiti has historical significance. It can tell us a lot about civilisations that lived thousands of years ago. Go to the Colosseum in Rome. I bet it has some great examples.

It does. Such as “Ivan + Hayley 23 ”. You’re talking about Ivan Dimitrov from Bristol , who was filmed in June in a viral video called “Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome”.

It’s awful. Yes, but cut the guy some slack. He didn’t know how old the Colosseum was. He wrote a letter of apology to the mayor of Rome saying that “only after what happened did I learn about the antiquity of the monument”.

Or there’s just the letter N. OK, that was by the 17-year-old Swiss girl who was caught defacing the Colosseum this month . But who knows what she was going to write? It might have been something profound. You’re right, though, defacing ancient monuments is never a good idea. Better to stick to trees.

Don’t do that either! Why? Because trees are living things and deliberately cutting through bark leaves them open to fatal invasion by pests or disease ? God, you’re no fun.

My point is that graffiti anywhere is bad. You say “bad”, but I prefer “historically significant”. Thanks to graffiti, when I walk around my neighbourhood I’m confronted with a running commentary of all the key issues that face my community.

And what issues are they? Well, um, there’s the issue of Covid being a conspiracy.

Stop ! Don’t you see, though? Every message left on a wall, no matter how libellous, is a way of reaching through time itself. It’s a way of telling future generations one simple message: “I woz ere.”

Where, exactly? Judging by the density of graffiti that I see, mainly the inside of a Wetherspoon’s toilet cubicle.

This is so depressing. Oh, come on, there is some great toilet door graffiti. One did the rounds a few years ago that read: “Since writing on bathroom stalls is done neither for wealth nor critical acclaim, it is the purest form of art. Discuss.”

Ugh, I think I preferred “Ivan + Hayley 23” . Me too. Let’s go and carve it into the Tower of Jericho!

Do say: “Graffiti enables us to achieve permanence in our transient existence.”

Don’t say: “Covid is a hoax, 5G is the killer.”

  • Rome holidays
  • Europe holidays

Comments (…)

Most viewed.

Man carves love note into Colosseum in latest case of tourist misbehavior

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

A man was seen on video carving the name of his girlfriend into the walls of the Colosseum, drawing outrage from the Italian culture minister, who said the suspect should be identified and punished.

Videos showing the man in the act have been going viral since last week, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency. The unidentified tourist engraved “Ivan+Haley 23” onto the almost 2,000-year-old structure in Rome. He could face up to five years in prison and a fine of about $16,400, ANSA reported .

Gennaro Sangiuliano, the culture minister, tweeted Monday that he considered it “a sign of great incivility.” He expressed hope that the man would be legally punished.

Rome, home to some of the world’s most popular tourist sites, has been in a battle to clamp down on obnoxious visitors. In 2018, the mayor signed legislation that targets tourists who engage in certain behavior, such as bathing in public waterworks. The law requires visitors who vandalize artifacts such as the Colosseum to restore them to their earlier condition.

Suspects who previously raised eyebrows at the Colosseum include an Irish tourist accused of carving his initials there; two American women accused of carving the letters “J” and “N”; and two other Americans accused of breaking into the amphitheater to enjoy their morning beers.

The worst part of a vacation? The annoying things that other tourists do.

Venice, another Italian tourist draw, has also had its fair share of ignorant tourists. Since at least 1986, the city has imposed decorum codes and fines on unruly visitors. The city penalizes feeding pigeons, littering and surfing in its canals. Last year, two Australian visitors were fined $1,500 each after riding motorized surfboards in the Grand Canal.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that the surfers were “imbeciles.”

Ecco due imbecilli prepotenti che si fanno beffa della Città… chiedo a tutti di aiutarci a individuarli per punirli anche se le nostre armi sono davvero spuntate… servono urgentemente più poteri ai Sindaci in tema di sicurezza pubblica! A chi li individua offro una cena! pic.twitter.com/DV2ONO3hUs — Luigi Brugnaro (@LuigiBrugnaro) August 17, 2022

Some destinations have unfortunately become magnets for misbehavior.

On Indonesia’s resort island of Bali , immigration officials announced last week that they deported a Russian man who posted a photo on social media showing him with his pants around his ankles atop Mount Agung, a sacred site for Hindus.

It was not the first time that tourists have violated cultural norms at sacred sites.

In 2010, a French dancer stripped on Uluru, or Ayers Rock, a massive monolith in central Australia that’s considered sacred to the local Aboriginal people. How would “French people feel if an Australian danced semi-naked on the altar of the Notre Dame?” Kon Vatskalis, who was at the time a senior local government official, told the Australian media. “I think Aboriginal people have every right to be outraged.”

In 2018, Cambodian authorities kicked seven Westerners out of their country, accusing them of “singing and dancing pornographically” near the famed Angkor Wat temple complex, which dates to the 12th century. Photos from the Cambodian police show a group of people dressed but cavorting on the floor.

Tourists have also harmed wildlife at popular spots. In the United States, national parks have urged visitors leave animals alone.

Last month, a man from Hawaii sought to help a baby bison reunite with its herd. The unsolicited interjection left the calf rejected by its herd and compelled Yellowstone National Park officials to euthanize it.

At the Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia and Maryland, tourists have fed wild horses, forcing park officials to relocate at least one that developed food aggression. It is illegal to “feed, touch, tease, frighten or intentionally disturb wildlife,” according to the National Park Service .

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

  • Share full article

Advertisement

Supported by

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Etch It Into the Colosseum.

A man decided to immortalize his visit to a Roman landmark by scratching “Ivan + Hayley 23/6/23” into the brick, using his keys.

People taking pictures outside a landmark in Rome.

By Elisabetta Povoledo

A tourist decided to immortalize a visit to the Colosseum in Rome with his girlfriend recently by scratching their names into one of the walls of the nearly 2,000-year-old monument.

“Ivan + Hayley 23/6/23,” he etched into the brick last Friday with a set of keys.

The act, apparently captured by another tourist and posted online, has left Ivan facing the prospect of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 15,000 euros — if he is apprehended.

In the video, whose authenticity has not been verified but which has been shared widely online, the person filming Ivan asks: “Are you serious, man?” using an expletive.

Colosseum officials confirmed the vandalism and noted that a clearly marked sign nearby reads: “No climbing and writing on the walls.”

The Italian culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, condemned the act.

“I consider it very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility when a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world,” he said on Twitter .

Mr. Sangiuliano reposted video of the wall being defaced and said, “I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws.”

It is far from the first time that Italy has grappled with visitors intent on leaving their mark. Huns, Visigoths, mutinous 16th-century German mercenaries — take your pick. Modern-day tourists tend more toward partying then pillaging, but they can still do a lot of damage.

Three years ago, a spate of incidents prompted lawmakers to stiffen laws penalizing those who vandalize Italy’s venerable cultural heritage. Italy wants to impose even tougher laws on climate activists, who have vandalized cultural property to protest what they call government inaction on climate change.

But the tougher laws haven’t put a stop to bad behavior. Last year, a tourist pushed an electric scooter down the Spanish Steps in Rome, causing damage put at 25,000 euros (about $27,000).

Alfonsina Russo, the director of the Colosseum, which was inaugurated in the first century A.D., said that the wall Ivan defaced was built during a mid-19th century restoration. That, however, makes little difference, she said.

“Mid-19th century or original, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s vandalism,” Ms. Russo said in a telephone interview.

Colosseum officials found out that the wall had been defaced only on Monday, after the video went up on YouTube, Ms. Russo said. She said the person who made it should have alerted the Colosseum security staff.

“This is hardly the first time someone has vandalized the monument,” Ms. Russo said. But visitors who see damage being done are ordinarily proactive. “We generally catch the culprit,” she said.

A representative for Italy’s specialized art squad, which fights art theft and protects Italy’s artistic heritage, said it was working with the carabinieri, the country’s military police force, to identify and track down the offender.

Ms. Russo said it was important to punish such acts.

“It’s everyone’s patrimony,” she said.

Elisabetta Povoledo is a reporter based in Rome and has been writing about Italy for more than three decades. More about Elisabetta Povoledo

Tourist who carved name in Colosseum identified by Italian police

Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics bureau ISTAT, says 2023 is shaping up as a record for visitors to Italy, surpassing pre-pandemic levels

Italian police say they have identified the man and the woman he was with from photos but have not named the couple.

Italian police say they believe the man filmed while engraving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend last week on the ancient Roman Colosseum is a tourist who lives in Britain.

The identification was made using photographic comparisons, Italian Carabinieri said in a statement.

The press release also noted, "That the proceeding is in the preliminary investigation phase, therefore the suspect must consider himself innocent until a final sentence is issued".

  • Italy planning five-figure fines for monument and art vandalism

UK media is widely reporting the culprit who carved “Ivan+Haley 23” on the Colosseum wall to be 27-year-old Bulgarian-born fitness instructor Ivan Dimitrov,  who also goes by the name Ivan Hawkins.

He and his long-term girlfriend 33-year-old Hayley Bracey reportedly live together near the city of Bristol in southwest England. Bracey is thought to run her own sports nutrition business. 

Andrew Medichini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Italy's Minister for Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano said "This action offended all those around the world who appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history. I now hope that justice will take its course by strictly applying the laws."   

Sangiuliano said he was looking forward to the Parliamentary debate on toughening laws to punish those who ruin archaeological heritage. "Those who damage will pay," he added.

He also warned that if the person is brought to trial, the Ministry of Culture will declare itself an offended party.

What exactly happened?

Italy's most popular tourist attraction, the nearly 2,000-year-old Colosseum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-known symbols of Imperial Rome.

Footage of the incident went viral on social media, at a time when Romans have already been complaining about hordes of tourists visiting the city this year.

The video shows a bearded young man in a blue flowery shirt scratching his and his girlfriend's name with a key on an internal wall of the ancient Roman stone amphitheatre.

Fellow tourist, Ryan Lutz, from Orange City, California, who filmed the tourist in the act, posted the video on YouTube and Reddit. It received over 1500 social media views and was picked up by Italian media. 

Lutz said on Tuesday that he was “dumbfounded” that someone would deface such an important monument.

  • Sex scenes at the Acropolis: Film-makers are 'Parthe-non-gratis' at Greece's Culture Ministry
  • Mystic pizza! Pompeii fresco might show ancient 'pizza predecessor'

Following the widespread circulation of the video, numerous prominent government officials expressed strong condemnation of the incident.

Sangiuliano called the writing carved into the almost 2,000-year-old Flavian Amphitheatre “serious, undignified and a sign of great incivility.” 

Hefty fines

The incident is the fourth time this year that such graffiti has been reported at the Colosseum. The Italian news agency ANSA said whoever was responsible for the latest episode risked €13,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned “so that he understands the gravity of the gesture.” 

Calling for respect for Italy’s culture and history, she vowed: “We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way.”

  • Mummy dating back 3,000 years found in Peru next to professional football team training field

In 2014, a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 and received a four-year suspended jail sentence for engraving a big letter ‘K’ on a wall of the Colosseum.

The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument.

Watch the video above to see what happened.

You might also like

"Venus of the Rags" from Michelangelo Pistoletto in Bonn, Germany. Vandals destroyed one of the series, a seminal artwork by one of Italy's most famous living artists.

Man arrested in connection with Pistoletto artwork arson

The Primavera sign calls out to music lovers

Lana Del Rey disappoints, PJ Harvey heralds the rain, and Lankum asto

'Doing well with these fine goods' (2022) by John Madu.

The best things to do and see (or watch) in Europe this week

Facebook

Sunday, June 02, 2024 6:08 pm (Paris)

  • International

Police search for man who carved graffiti into Rome's Colosseum

Italy's culture and tourism ministers have vowed to find and punish the tourist who was filmed carving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend in a now-viral video

Le Monde with AP

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Messenger
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by email
  • Share on Linkedin

A tourist holding keys carves on the wall of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy June 23, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. Courtesy of Ryan Lutz/via REUTERS  THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Italy's culture and tourism ministers have vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend in the wall of the Colosseum in Rome, a crime that resulted in hefty fines in the past.

Video of the incident went viral on social media. The message reading "Ivan+Haley 23" appeared on the Colosseum at a time when residents already were complaining about hordes of tourists flooding the Eternal City in record numbers this season.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the writing carved into the almost 2,000-year-old Flavian Amphitheater "serious, undignified and a sign of great incivility." He said he hoped the culprits would be found “and punished according to our laws."

Italian news agency ANSA noted that the incident marked the fourth time this year that such graffiti was reported at the Colosseum. It said whoever was responsible for the latest episode risked $15,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned "so that he understands the gravity of the gesture." Calling for respect for Italy's culture and history, she vowed: "We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way."

In 2014, a Russian tourist was fined €20,000 and received a four-year suspended jail sentence for engraving a big letter 'K' on a wall of the Colosseum. The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument. Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics bureau ISTAT, has said 2023 is shaping up as a record for visitors to Italy, surpassing pre-pandemic levels that hit a high in 2019.

Lecture du Monde en cours sur un autre appareil.

Vous pouvez lire Le Monde sur un seul appareil à la fois

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil.

Parce qu’une autre personne (ou vous) est en train de lire Le Monde avec ce compte sur un autre appareil.

Vous ne pouvez lire Le Monde que sur un seul appareil à la fois (ordinateur, téléphone ou tablette).

Comment ne plus voir ce message ?

En cliquant sur «  Continuer à lire ici  » et en vous assurant que vous êtes la seule personne à consulter Le Monde avec ce compte.

Que se passera-t-il si vous continuez à lire ici ?

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil. Ce dernier restera connecté avec ce compte.

Y a-t-il d’autres limites ?

Non. Vous pouvez vous connecter avec votre compte sur autant d’appareils que vous le souhaitez, mais en les utilisant à des moments différents.

Vous ignorez qui est l’autre personne ?

Nous vous conseillons de modifier votre mot de passe .

Lecture restreinte

Votre abonnement n’autorise pas la lecture de cet article

Pour plus d’informations, merci de contacter notre service commercial.

Man filmed by O.C. tourist carving his name on Rome’s Colosseum was British visitor, police say

Visitors at the Colosseum in Rome

  • Show more sharing options
  • Copy Link URL Copied!

The tourist filmed carving his name on Rome’s Colosseum by an Orange County man in a video that subsequently went viral was from Britain, Italian police say.

The act of vandalism was filmed by Ryan Lutz of Orange, who posted the video on social media after he said Colosseum guards failed to show interest in it.

Italian police said in a statement Thursday that they had used photographic comparisons to identify the man who carved his name and that of his apparent girlfriend on the ancient landmark last week. But beyond saying he was from Britain, the Carabinieri did not name the suspect or specify his whereabouts.

When reached by phone, police said no further information could be given.

Italian officials have vowed to find and punish the tourist who carved “Ivan+Haley 23” on the Colosseum’s wall , a crime that has resulted in hefty fines in the past.

It was at least the fourth time this year that such graffiti was reported at the Colosseum, an act that carries fines of up to $15,000 and five years in prison.

Bruce Springsteen, raising a guitar while playing it, performs onstage with the E Street Band

Italian mayor defends Bruce Springsteen’s Ferrara concert amid devastating floods

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Thursday concert in Ferrara, Italy, was set to continue despite calls for cancellation out of respect for flood victims.

May 18, 2023

Lutz, who is on a two-month backpacking trip through Europe, said he had just finished a guided tour of the Colosseum on June 23 when he saw the person “blatantly carving his name” in the Colosseum wall. Lutz told the Associated Press that he took out his phone to film the man because he was so shocked at what he was doing.

“And as you see in the video, I kind of approach him and ask him, dumbfounded at this point, ‘Are you serious? Are you really serious?’” Lutz recalled. “And all he could do is, like, smile at me.”

Lutz, a recent graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, said he tried to get a guard to take action, but neither the guard nor his supervisor did anything, even after Lutz identified the man and offered to share the video.

He said he decided to post the video online the following morning, after he had calmed down. Although Lutz says he appreciates graffiti and art, “carving your name seems like a pretty selfish act.” He said visitors to foreign countries cannot repay their hosts “with blatant disrespect like this.”

More to Read

Mariama Sylla, sister of Ousmane Sylla, holds photos of him in their house at Matoto Bonagui, a suburb of Conakry, Guinea, Monday, April 8, 2024. Sylla had landed on Italian shores a year before his death in Feb. 4, 2024, one of tens of thousands of people who pay migrant smugglers hundreds or thousands of euros to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. He had no visa, and had been ordered to leave after admitting that he had lied about being a minor. (AP Photo/Misper Apawu)

Italy’s migrant jails are squalid and chaotic. A young man from Guinea was desperate to escape

June 1, 2024

Some 600 stolen works of art that where gave back by the United States of America to the Italian Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage are displayed during their presentation to journalists in Rome, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

U.S. vows to return more looted antiquities as Italy welcomes home 600 artifacts

May 28, 2024

FILE - Reporter Sookee Chung takes a photo of a sculpture titled "Statue of a Victorious Youth, 300-100 B.C." at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, on July 27, 2015. A European court upheld Italy’s right to seize a prized Greek statue from the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, rejecting the museum’s appeal on Thursday and ruling Italy was right to try to reclaim an important part of its cultural heritage. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

European court upholds Italy’s right to seize prized Greek bronze from Getty Museum

May 2, 2024

World & Nation

Los Angeles, CA - April 10: The now defaced statue of General Harrison Gray Otis, with a part of the statue now sawed off to the feet at MacArthur Park on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. The Statue was designed by sculptor Paul Troubetzkoy in 1920 and dedicated in 1930. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

Copper thieves strike again, mutilating a 100-year-old monument in MacArthur Park

April 12, 2024

Exterior of the Masjid Al-Tawheed mosque on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

San Francisco man arrested after allegedly vandalizing mosque, leaving community ‘living in fear’

A detail of Michelangelo's 16th century statue of David is seen on display at the Accademia gallery, in Florence, central Italy, Monday, March 18, 2024. Michelangelo’s David has been a towering figure in Italian culture since its completion in 1504. But curators worry the marble statue’s religious and political significance is being diminished by the thousands of refrigerator magnets and other souvenirs focusing on David’s genitalia. The Galleria dell’Accademia’s director has positioned herself as David’s defender and takes swift aim at those profiteering from his image. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

A fight to protect the dignity of Michelangelo’s David raises questions about freedom of expression

April 1, 2024

From left, Italian Senators Walter Verini, Ilaria Cucchi, and Ivan Scalfarotto exit a migrants repatriation center in Ponte Galeria, in the outskirts of Rome after a surprise visit, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Pressure is building on Italy authorities to close the notorious migrant detention center of Ponte Galeria where Ousmane Sylla, a Guinean migrant, hung himself last month and visiting opposition senators described inhuman conditions for people ordered to leave Italy but still awaiting repatriation. (Valentina Stefanelli/LaPresse via AP)

Italy’s migrant detention centers in spotlight after death of Guinean and calls to close them down

March 11, 2024

Special Agent Gary France, second right,, Dr. Francis Wood and Wood’s children stand next to the John Opie painting that was stolen from Wood’s parents' home in 1969 in Newark, N.J.,on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. The 18th-Century John Opie painting stolen by mobsters in 1969 with help from a New Jersey state lawmaker has been returned more than 50 years later, the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office announced Friday, Jan. 26. (FBI via AP)

A British painting stolen by mobsters is returned to the owner’s son — 54 years later

Jan. 26, 2024

Police in Brazil arrest a suspect in the brutal slaying of a Manhattan art dealer

Jan. 18, 2024

Start your day right

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

FILE - Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. India has urged pro-China Maldives to ease tensions and improve their strained relationship. The foreign ministers of India and Maldives met in New Delhi on Thursday, a day ahead of a deadline set by the Maldives’ new president for India to withdraw dozens of its soldiers from the archipelago nation. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

Maldives will ban Israelis from entering the country over the war in Gaza

Iran's hard-line former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to the media as he leaves at the conclusion of a press briefing beside portraits of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, top right, and the late President Ebrahim Raisi after registering his name as a candidate for the June 28 presidential election at the Interior Ministry, in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 2, 2024. Ahmadinejad registered Sunday as a possible candidate for the presidential election, seeking to regain the country's top political position after a helicopter crash killed the nation's president. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s hard-line former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registers for presidential election

Buildings cover Gardi Sugdub Island, part of San Blas archipelago off Panama's Caribbean coast, Saturday, May 25, 2024. Due to rising sea levels, about 300 Guna Indigenous families will relocate to new homes, built by the government, on the mainland. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Panama prepares to evacuate first island in face of rising sea levels

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr., left, and his wife Martha-Ann Alito, pay their respects at the casket of Reverend Billy Graham at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. Alito rejects calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases on Trump and Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Calmes: Alito and Thomas taint the Supreme Court’s all-important Jan. 6 decisions

June 2, 2024

Italian police say man filmed carving name on Colosseum from UK

Italian officials promised to find and punish tourist who carved ‘Ivan+Haley 23’ on a wall of the Colosseum in Rome.

Tourists are seen visiting the ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Officials on Tuesday showed off the newly restored fourth and fifth levels of the Colosseum, which are opening to the public starting Nov. 1. Included in the tour is a connecting hallway that has never before been open to tourists. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Italian police said they believe the man filmed engraving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend on the ancient Roman Colosseum in Rome is a tourist who lives in the United Kingdom.

The identification was made using photographic comparisons, Italian Carabinieri said in a press statement on Thursday.

Keep reading

Amid crackdown, eviction fears haunt long-term squatters in rome amid crackdown, eviction fears haunt ..., why romanian migrant women suffer from ‘italy syndrome’ why romanian migrant women suffer from ..., when in rome: how the italians are preparing for euro 2020 final when in rome: how the italians are ....

The statement did not provide the name of the suspect nor his whereabouts. When reached by phone, police said no further information could be given.

Italian officials have said they will find and punish the tourist who carved “Ivan+Haley 23” on a wall of the Colosseum in Rome, a crime that has resulted in hefty fines in the past.

The vandal was filmed in the act by a tourist from the United States, Ryan Lutz, who posted the video on social media after he said Colosseum guards failed to show interest in his footage.

A tourist holding keys carves on the wall of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy June 23, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. Courtesy of Ryan Lutz/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

“It’s extremely disgraceful and a sign of great lack of culture that a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, a piece of historical heritage,” Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said on Tuesday.

Sangiuliano expressed the hope that the culprit would be found and punished.

Built in the first century, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre in the world, a Roman landmark and a major tourist attraction that draws approximately a million visitors each year.

The incident was at least the fourth time this year that such graffiti was reported at the Colosseum, an act that carries fines of up to $15,000 and five years in prison.

Graffiti on the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Ancient graffiti (in red) is covered by tourists' markings inside Rome's Colosseum.

What Does First-century Roman Graffiti Say?

Work at Rome’s Colosseum turns up 2,000-year-old scrawling.

A facelift of the Colosseum in Rome that began last fall has revealed centuries of graffiti. Removing the accumulated grime and calcification, experts discovered layers of inscriptions on the section of a wall seen here—designs in red and faded gray from antiquity, and lettering in black left by visitors in modern times.

Built in the first century, the Colosseum may have held crowds as large as 50,000 people. Its numbered entrances and covered passages were designed to get spectators in and out quickly and to separate the high and mighty from the hoi polloi. ( Read about Rome's border walls in National Geographic Magazine. )

The wall in this picture flanked a passage that led to an upper tier. There, women, children, and slaves perched in the cheap seats to watch the bloody spectacle of gladiators and wild beasts battling for their lives on the arena floor 60 feet (18 meters) below.

Even in the dim light of this passage, the designs painted in red would have been easy to see against a background of white plaster. Today, the meaning of the designs in this particular spot is a mystery, though patches of newly cleaned plaster on other parts of the wall show a palm frond in red (a symbol of victory) and the letters "VIND," which may be part of the word vindicatio , or vengeance. ( See photo of street art graffiti )

In the area above what looks like the large "S," meanwhile, Roman graffiti expert Rebecca Benefiel sees the faint gray profile of a face. "That was the single most popular image to draw in ancient graffiti," she says.

In the Roman period people rarely wrote their messages on top of existing graffiti. "There was a different understanding of writing on a wall," said Benefiel, a classics professor at Washington and Lee University. "You left space."

By the 19th century, the Colosseum was a famous monument, and its graffiti had become a tangled, overwritten record of tourists' visits. "Writers were aware of being in a historic place," said Benefiel. "They were making a mark to emphasize their presence."

Names and dates were important. So was place of origin. On this wall, in 1892, J. Milber wanted the world to know that he had traveled from the city of Strasbourg.

Officials in Rome say they plan to open this passage to the public once the restoration work is done. Presumably some kind of barrier will prevent future tourists from adding their own autographs for posterity.

Related Topics

  • ANCIENT ROME

You May Also Like

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

These mosaics survived a millennia. Here's what they revealed about ancient Rome.

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Was Caligula mad—or just misunderstood?

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

The first sack of Rome wasn't when you think it was

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Meet the only woman privy to the plot to kill Julius Caesar

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

The ancient—and mysterious—history of ‘abracadabra’

  • Environment
  • Paid Content
  • Photography
  • Perpetual Planet

History & Culture

  • History & Culture
  • History Magazine
  • Mind, Body, Wonder
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your US State Privacy Rights
  • Children's Online Privacy Policy
  • Interest-Based Ads
  • About Nielsen Measurement
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Nat Geo Home
  • Attend a Live Event
  • Book a Trip
  • Inspire Your Kids
  • Shop Nat Geo
  • Visit the D.C. Museum
  • Learn About Our Impact
  • Support Our Mission
  • Advertise With Us
  • Customer Service
  • Renew Subscription
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Work at Nat Geo
  • Sign Up for Our Newsletters
  • Contribute to Protect the Planet

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society Copyright © 2015-2024 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

Italy declares manhunt for tourist who carved ‘Ivan+Haley 23’ into Rome’s ancient Colosseum

Colosseum

Italy’s culture and tourism ministers have vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and that of his apparent girlfriend in the wall of the Colosseum in Rome, a crime that resulted in hefty fines in the past.

Video of the incident went viral on social media. The message reading “Ivan+Haley 23” appeared on the Colosseum at a time when residents already were complaining about hordes of tourists flooding the Eternal City in record numbers this season.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the writing carved into the almost 2,000-year-old Flavian Ampitheater “serious, undignified and a sign of great incivility.” He said he hoped the culprits would be found “and punished according to our laws.”

Italian news agency ANSA noted that the incident marked the fourth time this year that such graffiti was reported at the Colosseum. It said whoever was responsible for the latest episode risked $15,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned “so that he understands the gravity of the gesture.” Calling for respect for Italy’s culture and history, she vowed: “We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way.”

In 2014,  a Russian tourist was fined  20,000 euros ($25,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence for engraving a big letter ‘K’ on a wall of the Colosseum.

The following year, two American tourists were also cited for aggravated damage after they carved their names in the monument.

Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics bureau ISTAT, has said 2023 is shaping up as a record for visitors to Italy, surpassing pre-pandemic levels that hit a high in 2019.

Outside the Colosseum on Tuesday, visitors called for such monuments to be protected and preserved.

“There is a rich history here. It helps us learn from the past,” Diego Cruz, an American student, said.

Güldamla Ozsema, a computer engineer visiting from Turkey, said his country also had difficulty protecting its monuments from disrespectful tourists.

“I really get angry with them, with this behavior,” Ozsema said.

Seven friends toasting with glasses of beer

Non-alcoholic beer is booming as GenZers stay sober—and brewers like AB InBev are looking to the Paris Olympics to cash in

peppa pig mascots standing in a row

Snouts, muddy puddles and British accents: How Peppa Pig became a global cultural phenomenon—and a $1.7 billion franchise

The rising sun shines through a gap in the old buildings in the central square in Brussels

Summer travelers are flocking to northern and central European cities like Brussels and Munich to avoid Mediterranean heat and crowds

Woman shops for avocados

British supermarket Tesco is laser-tattooing avocados to cut plastic pollution. Will it make any difference?

Businesswoman leading informal meeting in modern open plan office

U.K. millennials will probably never experience the same income boom as Gen X and baby boomers, major study shows

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt's Ostend district.

Inflation rose in Europe in May but its central bank is still set to cut interest rates before the Fed

Most popular.

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Millennials’ midlife crisis looks different from their parents’ sports cars and mistresses—it’s a ‘crisis of purpose and engagement’

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

$80 million mansions, oceanfront views, and secret tunnels to the beach: Inside one of America’s most expensive zip codes

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Michael Dell’s net worth sinks the most in a single day, falling by $11.7 billion after shares of his company suffer record selloff on weak revenue

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Mark Zuckerberg is quietly sitting on a shopping empire with 4 times the customers of Amazon, as Facebook Marketplace skyrockets

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Jerome Powell’s Federal Reserve is stuck in a self-defeating paradox that makes cutting rates more difficult, economist warns

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

Two 39-year-old Estonian men are the alleged kingpins behind a massive half billion fraud targeting thousands of U.S. investors

British tourist who vandalised the Colosseum apologises and says he didn't realise how old it was

  • Thursday 6 July 2023 at 7:43pm

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

A tourist, who was filmed etching his and his girlfriend's name into the Colosseum, has apologised to the Mayor of Rome and claimed he did not realise how old the historic site was.

On June 27, a video showing a man using his keys to carve "Ivan+Hayley 23" into the amphitheatre went viral.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the act “undignified and a sign of great incivility.”

He said he hoped the culprits would be found “and punished according to our laws”.

Around two weeks after the incident, the alleged vandal - Ivan Dimitrov from Bristol - has written a letter of apology to the authorities.

In the letter, published by Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the man writes: "I admit with profound embarrassment that only after what regretfully happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument".

He added: "I wish to address my most 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".

He also praised those who "guard the inestimable historical and artistic value of the Colosseum with dedication, care and sacrifice". The incident was the fourth time this year that this type of graffiti was reported at the Colosseum.

Punishment for the act includes fines of up to £11,790 and five years in prison.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

  • My View My View
  • Following Following
  • Saved Saved

Italian police blame couple from England for Colosseum graffiti

  • Medium Text

Tourists visit the Colosseum in Rome

Sign up here.

Reporting by Emilio Parodi and Federica Urso; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Conor Humphries

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. New Tab , opens new tab

High water levels and heavy rainfalls in Bavaria

World Chevron

Officials from the United States, Israel and Egypt ended a meeting in Cairo on Sunday with Egypt sticking to its position that Israel must withdraw from the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing for it to operate again, two Egyptian security sources said.

General elections in Mexico

Another tourist is facing backlash for defacing the Colosseum, but an archaeologist says people have 'always' defaced monuments like this. We just care more now.

  • Another tourist carved into the walls of the Colosseum earlier this month.
  • But, experts say people have been defacing the monument for centuries.
  • Even ancient Romans themselves were known to tag the Colosseum.

Insider Today

The human need to leave a mark on the world is not a new phenomenon — even in the case of graffiti.

After  yet another tourist was caught  defacing Rome's Colosseum, it may seem  like these incidents  are on the rise. But an archaeology professor says people have "always" done this and that we just care more now.

"It's the sort of thing that people do and always have done," Valerie Higgins, a professor of archeology and cultural heritage at the American University of Rome, told Insider. "People who in previous centuries did a big tour of Europe, the Grand tour, they put their name on places as well to sort of indicate they had been there. People like Lord Byron did it."

For example, on the walls of the Colosseum, there's one engraving from 1892 in which someone named J. Milber indicated that he had traveled from Strasbourg,  National Geographic reported in 2013 . 

What's different now, Higgins said, is that "We now have a particular regard for monuments that we haven't had in the past."

Related stories

"They matter a lot more to people and to their identity," Higgins added. "They've become a cultural symbol that people feel they have to protect, and institutions feel they have to protect."

But it's not just people from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries who left their marks on the Colosseum. Even ancient Romans themselves did it.

During a Colosseum restoration project that began in 2012, experts discovered centuries of graffiti, some even dating back 2,000 years, National Geographic reported in 2013. That restoration revealed red and gray markings of a palm frond, the profile of a face, and the letters "VIND," which could stand for vindicatio, a Latin word meaning vengeance, National Geographic reported. 

Ancient Romans actually left graffiti all around the world — scrawlings that were typically either vulgar and sexual or lofty and poetic, The Spectator reported earlier this month . 

Ancient graffiti at Pompeii, for example, ranged from "You catamite shitter!" and "Lucilla made money from her body" to more pretentious musings like, "Let whoever loves prosper" and "Every lover fights," when translated from Latin, according to The Spectator.

But, despite the historical abundance of graffiti through the centuries, Higgins warns that modern tourists should still steer clear of defacing culturally significant monuments like the Colosseum. 

"It's a question of respect," she said, adding that the only way to deal with and prevent this behavior is education.

"Often, people just don't understand that this is a very important monument to some people. It's their identity. It's their national monument, and you don't just go around sort of writing on it."

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

  • Main content

Read the Latest on Page Six

latest in US News

Man chokes terrified 6-year-old while stealing her necklace in NYC: cops

Man chokes terrified 6-year-old while stealing her necklace in...

3 killed, nearly 40 wounded in mass shootings at gatherings across US

3 killed, nearly 40 wounded in mass shootings at gatherings...

NYPD calls for cops to arrest protesters without hesitation at NYC Israel Day Parade: sources

NYPD calls for cops to arrest protesters without hesitation at...

University of Chicago students walk out of commencement, clash with police in anti-Israel protest

University of Chicago students walk out of commencement, clash...

Turkish migrants flock to San Diego border with the help of smugglers on social media

Turkish migrants flock to San Diego border with the help of...

Policeman-turned-preacher reveals why he went from drug busts to sermons: 'I was seeing sin alive'

Policeman-turned-preacher reveals why he went from drug busts to...

Last-minute computer issues halt Boeing rocket launch moments before takeoff in yet another failure

Last-minute computer issues halt Boeing rocket launch moments...

Trump warns of national 'breaking point' if he's thrown in jail or placed under house arrest

Trump warns of national 'breaking point' if he's thrown in jail...

17-year-old swiss girl becomes second tourist to deface rome’s colosseum in a month.

  • View Author Archive
  • Email the Author
  • Follow on X
  • Get author RSS feed

Contact The Author

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.

Thanks for contacting us. We've received your submission.

When in Rome … another tourist has defaced the Colosseum.

A Swiss girl carved her initials into the iconic amphitheater — less than a month after another tourist stunningly defaced the ancient landmark with his and his fiancée’s names

Police have launched an investigation after Italian tour guide David Battaglino captured video of the unidentified 17-year-old girl carving the letter “N” into the wall, La Repubblica reported .

The footage posted on Twitter by the Italian news agency ANSA shows the blond girl, whose face is blurred, using an object to carve the letter before she backs off amid the attention.

“It is the first time I have managed to film an act of vandalism at the Colosseum but in six years I have seen dozens,” he told the local news outlet.

“There are also those who rip off parts of the wall. They even spat on me once for scolding a boy,” Battaglino added.

Girl seen defacing Colosseum

​The guide said he kept talking to his tour group as he recorded the clueless teen defacing the Colosseum.

“After a few seconds, my group applauded me. To her, in English, I said, ‘Do you want applause?’ The young girl understood that she had ended up in the crosshairs of those who protect art and turned away to go toward her family,” Battaglino told La Repubblica.

He said he told the girl’s parents that what she had done was illegal and claimed they blew him off with a “gesture of annoyance,” according to news outlet Italy24 .

The Colosseum

​“She’s just a little girl, she wasn’t doing anything wrong,” the parents told him, according to La Repubblica.

Battaglino said he snapped a photo of the whole family and notified authorities, who questioned them at police headquarters.

The teen ​could face up to five years behind bars and a fine of up to 15,000 euros — almost $17,000 — for damaging cultural property, according to reports.

Ivan Dimitrov smiles as he carves up Colosseum wall

The incident comes on the heels of a similar act of vandalism at the site.

Ivan Dimitrov, a 27-year-old Bulgarian-born fitness trainer living in Bristol, England, was caught on video.

He allegedly used a key to etch “Ivan + Hayley 23” into the 2,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site.

He later offered a bizarre apology to Mayor Roberto Gualtieri in which he begged for forgiveness and claimed he did not know how old the Colosseum, completed by Emperor Titus in 80 AD, was when he committed the act.

“It is with deep embarrassment that only after what regrettably happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument,” Dimitrov wrote. “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.”

Share this article:

Girl seen defacing Colosseum

Advertisement

Accessibility Links

sundaytimes logo

Colosseum graffiti carver named as British tourist

Bulgarian-born Ivan Dimitrov is accused of writing “Ivan and Hayley 23” on the wall with a sharp instrument

A tourist from Britain who allegedly carved his and his girlfriend’s names into the Colosseum in Rome is likely to be hit with a significant fine by the Italian authorities.

The man who vandalised the 2,000-year-old gladiatorial arena is believed to be Ivan Dimitrov, who also goes by the name Ivan Hawkins.

The 27-year-old, who lives near Bristol, was filmed by an American tourist carving the words “Ivan and Hayley 23” into the Roman brickwork with a sharp instrument. The man could be seen turning and smiling even as the person filming him called him a “stupid asshole”.

Dimitrov, who was born in Bulgaria, was in Rome with Hayley Bracey, 33, on a tour of Europe while their house was being renovated by builders.

Related articles

Graffiti vandal carves name on Colosseum wall

The Children of Pompeii Saw Gladiators Fight to the Death—and They Drew Graffiti About It

Researchers recently discovered bloodshed-themed stick-figure sketches in a cluster of houses in the doomed ancient city

Sonja Anderson

Sonja Anderson

Daily Correspondent

Gladiators

Before Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 C.E., encasing the ancient city of Pompeii in volcanic ash, local children sketched gladiators fighting to the death on a courtyard wall. The youths’ vivid drawings illustrate the degree of violence to which they were casually exposed on a regular basis.

Archaeologists found the graffiti in the Insula dei Casti Amanti , a cluster of homes and a bakery that recently opened to visitors to the Pompeii Archaeological Park for the first time. Based on the charcoal sketches’ simplicity and naive finesse, researchers have attributed them to children.

Per a statement , one drawing, located about five feet off the floor on the wall of a house, depicts four gladiators : trained fighters who battled beasts and men for ancient Romans’ entertainment. Two of the warriors face off against each other, while the other two appear to be bestiarii —beast fighters—aiming long spears at a pair of wild boars. Off to the right, the artist drew what looks like the head of an eagle.

hands

Child psychology experts from the University of Naples Federico II studied the sketch and concluded that the graffiti artist (or artists) was working not from imagination, but memory, says park director Gabriel Zuchtriegel in the statement.

The children who played in this house’s courtyards and flowerbeds some 2,000 years ago likely attended events at the city’s amphitheater, which—like Rome’s Colosseum —was a venue for bloody fights and hunting spectacles. There, Pompeii’s youth came into contact with an “extreme form of violence,” possibly including the executions of criminals and enslaved people, says Zuchtriegel, per a translation by the Telegraph ’s Nick Squires.

The stick figures in the sketch resemble cephalopods , a class of animal that includes octopuses and squids. Their limbs sprout directly from their heads. This characteristic has proved to be an “anthropological constant” in children’s drawings across time, Zuchtriegel adds, and many kids today take a similar approach.

frescoes

While researchers suspect a child climbed onto scaffolding to draw this gladiator scene, sketches in a different room were probably drawn at the young artist’s eye level, per the statement. Just one and half feet up the wall of a storeroom for amphorae—tall jars often used to hold oil and wine—illustrations depict three small hands, two people playing with a ball, what looks like a wild boar and two boxers lying on the ground.

Elsewhere in the Insula dei Casti Amanti, archaeologists unearthed the skeletons of a man and woman who died when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The people were likely seeking shelter from the volcanic cloud of hot pumice and ash that killed them. Other rooms in the complex were decorated with frescoes depicting centaurs, sirens and griffins, as well as the gods Apollo, Aphrodite and Dionysus.

Pompeii—which thrived as a port city for more than 600 years before its demise—is a “treasure chest” of archaeological discoveries, says Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano in the statement. In recent years, excavations have uncovered spectacular frescoes of Helen of Troy, an ancient construction site , erotic art and quarters for enslaved people , among other finds.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.

Sonja Anderson

Sonja Anderson | READ MORE

Sonja Anderson is a writer and reporter based in New York City.

roman colosseum tourist graffiti

5 Amazing Ancient Ruins in Rome (That Aren't the Colosseum)

R ome is full of ruins. You practically can’t turn a corner without seeing an ancient temple or statue or column. Obviously the Colosseum is the most popular site to visit, but don’t stop there! Here are the best ancient ruins in Rome that AREN’T the Colosseum!

Want to go underground to a 1st century Roman street? How about walking through the ruins of an ancient palace? Here are the best ruins to add to your Rome itinerary .

Pro Tip: Save money visit Rome’s museums and ancient sites with the Go City Pass . You can get the Explorer Pass and choose how many of the included attraction you want to see. But be sure to check the prices of your specific activities to make sure it’s the right deal for you!

Basilica San Clemente

The Basilica San Clemente is such a fantastic attraction in Rome that I think is completely underrated! A lot of people don’t know about it, but it was one of our favorite places we went in Rome. And anytime I know someone going to Rome, I always talk them into visiting this gem.

Within walking distance of the Colosseum, the Basilica San Clemente is a modern Basilica with an interesting history that you can literally descend into.

In the late 1800s, the Prior of the church began excavating beneath it and uncovered a 4th century basilica. Further excavations revealed a section of 1st Century Rome that had been destroyed in the fire of Nero in 64 A.D. At this level you can find an altar of Mithras, an alleyway, and what is thought to be an apartment room and school room.

The thing that is so amazing about San Clemente is that you can see these layers of history and the way Rome has been built on top of itself over and over again. It is such a unique experience to be able to descend into the different levels of Roman history and walk around in them.

Tips Visiting Basilica San Clemente

The Basilica San Clemente is location at Via Labicana 95, just a few blocks east of the Colosseum.

The San Clemente Basilica is a sacred site, so be sure to wear appropriate and modest clothing (as you would when visiting St. Peter’s Basilica).

Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill was once the home of ancient Roman emperors and elites. Now it is an open air museum of sorts, and it’s one of our favorite ruins to visit in Rome because it has such a relaxing feel to it. Wandering through the Palatine Hill truly makes you feel like you are not in the middle of a busy city!

Stroll through the grassy meadows just southwest of the Colosseum and explore the Palace of Domitian, which includes a stadium, as well as the houses of other nobility, and ancient temples. The Palatine Hill also provides some beautiful views of Rome and the Colosseum.

Tips for Visiting the Palatine Hill

Tickets to the Palatine Hill include admission to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. You can also pay extra to book a guided 3 hour tour through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum.

Don’t rush yourself here and be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy this beautiful place!

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is just east of the Colosseum and was once the center of Roman government. It’s smaller than the Palatine Hill and can get more crowded, but it is full of truly rich history.

Here you can find the public forums and a civic hall, temples, statues, and even the ruins of an ancient Roman jail. It really is like walking through a central city block in ancient Rome (although of course you have to picture that all the buildings are in their prime.)

We highly recommend finding some kind of guide for your visit, whether you go on a guided tour or use something like the Rick Steves Roman Forum audio tour and map .

Visiting the Roman Forum

Tickets to the Roman Forum include admission the Palatine Hill and Colosseum. You can also pay extra to book a guided 3 hour tour through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum or purchase an audio guide ticket.

The Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish Ghetto is an area of Rome just north of Tiber Island. The Jewish Ghetto was established in 1555 and for centuries was home to Rome’s Jewish population.

Today it is part of the regular city of Rome, but several ancient ruins still exist in the area. We love this area because the streets are lovely to stroll through and you stumble upon the ruins of the ghetto which are just interspersed with everything else.

This area was also subject to tragic round-ups of Jews during WWII, and if you look at the ground you can see gold markers indicating where various members of the community were arrested.

Visiting the Jewish Ghetto

There is no ticket for the Jewish Ghetto — it is just part of the city of Rome! Downloading a guide for your visit might be helpful though.

Largo de Torre Argentina

The Largo de Torre Argentina is located just north of the Jewish Ghetto. Here you can see the ruins of several temples and a theater. You can’t actually wander through these ruins, but you can walk along the edge of them. My favorite thing here is that the Largo de Torre Argentina is home to a colony of cats!

Visiting the Largo de Torre Argentina

There is no ticket for the Largo de Torre Argentina; rather it makes a great quick stop as you are wandering through the streets of Rome.

More Ancient Ruins in Rome

Even beyond these five ruins to see, there so many more ancient ruins in Rome. Here’s a some to considering visiting:

  • Circus Maximus — A ruins of a chariot stadium and a place where ancient Roman’s gathered for games and competition. Located just south of the Palatine Hill. (You can actually see it from certain spots on the Palatine Hill.)
  • Via Sacra — A major street of ancient Rome that leads to the Colosseum and has lots to see along it still.
  • Baths of Diocletian — The largest public bath in Rome (Seriously, it’s a huge complex!) and part of the National Museum of Rome. Located just northwest of the Termini train station.
  • Baths of Caracalla — Once the second largest public baths in Rome. Located south of the Colosseum.
  • Teatro Marcello — A theater planned by Julius Caesar and built by Augustus. Located just north of Tiber Island.
  • Pyramid of Cestius — A Egyptian-style pyramid that was the burial spot for Gaius Cestius, an ancient Roman magistrate. Located in the southern part of the city.
  • Via Appia — The Appian Way was one of ancient Rome’s most important roads, and part of it runs through Rome. The most popular part to visit in Rome is the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica.
  • Ostia Antica — Technically this isn’t quite in Rome, but its a large archaeological park of an ancient city near Rome’s port. It takes about 30 minutes to drive there from central Rome, or about 1.5 hours on public transportation.

You Might Also Like

  • 3 Day Rome Itinerary for First Time Visitors
  • 10 Day Italy Itinerary: Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Milan

The post 5 Amazing Ancient Ruins in Rome (That Aren’t the Colosseum) appeared first on Flying Off The Bookshelf .

Rome is full of ruins. You practically can’t turn a corner without seeing an ancient temple or statue or column. Obviously the Colosseum is the most popular site to visit, but don’t stop there! Here are the best ancient ruins in Rome that AREN’T the Colosseum! Want to go underground to a 1st century Roman...

COMMENTS

  1. Rome's Colosseum: Tourist filmed allegedly carving 'Ivan ...

    The tourist, who police say is from the UK, could face fine of up to 15,000 euros and five years in prison if convicted of defacing the 2,000-year-old Roman structure.

  2. American who filmed tourist carving name in Colosseum dumbfounded as

    3 of 3 | . Visitors stand in a line to enter the ancient Colosseum, in Rome, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Italy's culture and tourism ministers Gennaro Sangiuliano vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving his name and his girlfriend's name in the wall of the Colosseum, a crime that in the past has resulted in hefty fines.

  3. A not-so-brief history of the Colosseum for confused vandals

    July 8, 2023 at 6:16 p.m. EDT. The Colosseum in Rome in April 2022. (Ginevra Sammartino for The Washington Post) 4 min. 392. Long before modern-day tourists carved their initials and love notes on ...

  4. What happened to the tourist accused of carving his name into Rome

    The British tourist who attracted outrage in Rome after being accused of carving his name into the Colosseum walls with a key is facing up to five years in prison and a €15,000 (£12,850) fine.

  5. 'I woz here!' Why do tourists keep defacing the Colosseum?

    Graffiti is such an eyesore. ... You're talking about Ivan Dimitrov from Bristol, who was filmed in June in a viral video called "Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome".

  6. Tourist carves love note into Rome's Colosseum

    A tourist carved his girlfriend's name into the walls of Rome's Colosseum on June 23, as seen in a viral video, drawing outrage from Italy's culture minister. (Video: Reuters) A man was seen on ...

  7. Italian officials vow to find, punish man filmed carving his and

    Visitors take photos of the Colosseum in Rome on Tuesday. Italy's culture and tourism ministers vowed to find and punish a tourist who was filmed carving names into the wall of the Colosseum.

  8. Tourist Filmed Carving Girlfriend's Name Into Rome's Colosseum

    A tourist decided to immortalize a visit to the Colosseum in Rome with his girlfriend recently by scratching their names into one of the walls of the nearly 2,000-year-old monument. "Ivan ...

  9. Tourist who carved name in Colosseum identified by Italian police

    Italy's most popular tourist attraction, the nearly 2,000-year-old Colosseum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-known symbols of Imperial Rome.

  10. Police search for man who carved graffiti into Rome's Colosseum

    A tourist holding keys carves on the wall of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy June 23, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. Courtesy of Ryan Lutz/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED ...

  11. Man filmed carving name on Colosseum was British, police say

    June 30, 2023 2:09 AM PT. ROME —. The tourist filmed carving his name on Rome's Colosseum by an Orange County man in a video that subsequently went viral was from Britain, Italian police say ...

  12. Italian police say man filmed carving name on Colosseum from UK

    Italian officials have said they will find and punish the tourist who carved "Ivan+Haley 23" on a wall of the Colosseum in Rome, a crime that has resulted in hefty fines in the past. The ...

  13. What Does First-century Roman Graffiti Say?

    By A. R. Williams. January 31, 2013. • 2 min read. A facelift of the Colosseum in Rome that began last fall has revealed centuries of graffiti. Removing the accumulated grime and calcification ...

  14. Italy: Roman Colosseum defaced with tourist graffiti

    In 2014, a Russian tourist was fined 20,000 euros ($25,000) and received a four-year suspended jail sentence for engraving a big letter 'K' on a wall of the Colosseum.

  15. Italy vows to find and punish tourist who defaced Colosseum wall

    ROME, June 27 (Reuters) - Italian authorities are looking for a tourist who scribbled graffiti on a wall of the Colosseum, with Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano calling for exemplary ...

  16. British tourist who vandalised the Colosseum apologises and says he

    A tourist, who was filmed etching his and his girlfriend's name into the Colosseum, has apologised to the Mayor of Rome and claimed he did not realise how old the historic site was.

  17. Italian police blame couple from England for Colosseum graffiti

    ROME, June 29 (Reuters) - Italian police have identified a couple from England as the likely culprits after graffiti was scribbled on a wall at the Colosseum in Rome last week, prompting ...

  18. People Have Always Defaced the Colosseum, Archaeologist Says

    After yet another tourist was caught defacing Rome's Colosseum, it may seem like these incidents are on the rise. But an archaeology professor says people have "always" done this and that we just ...

  19. Swiss girl becomes second tourist to deface Rome's Colosseum

    17-year-old Swiss girl becomes second tourist to deface Rome's Colosseum in a month. When in Rome … another tourist has defaced the Colosseum. A Swiss girl carved her initials into the iconic ...

  20. U.S. tourists arrested at Rome's Colosseum

    The Russian was one of five tourists caught carving graffiti on Colosseum walls in 2014. The earlier incidents involved two Australians - a father and son - and a Canadian and a Brazilian ...

  21. Colosseum graffiti carver named as British tourist

    Thursday June 29 2023, 5.50pm, The Times. A tourist from Britain who allegedly carved his and his girlfriend's names into the Colosseum in Rome is likely to be hit with a significant fine by the ...

  22. The Children of Pompeii Saw Gladiators Fight to the Death—and They Drew

    The children who played in this house's courtyards and flowerbeds some 2,000 years ago likely attended events at the city's amphitheater, which—like Rome's Colosseum—was a venue for ...

  23. 5 Amazing Ancient Ruins in Rome (That Aren't the Colosseum)

    Rome is full of ruins. You practically can't turn a corner without seeing an ancient temple or statue or column. Obviously the Colosseum is the most popular site to visit, but don't stop there!