Two tourists have been caught carving their names into the famous Colosseum.
Rome police caught the two American girls, aged 21 and 25, using a coin to etch their names into the side of the ancient monument.
Police managed to stop the pair of travelers, but not before they successfully carved a 3-inch “J” and “N” into the building.
After successfully carving their initials, the unsuspecting pair then took a selfie as proof of their work.
The California girls, who were with a tour group, managed to sneak away to scratch their initials into the amphitheater with a coin.
While signs against committing such acts of vandalism are posted all over the site in Italian and English, the girls said they didn’t realize that defacing a 2,085-year-old relic was that big a deal saying, “We did not imagine it was something so serious.”
The pair were arrested and later freed. They have been cited for “aggravated damage to a building of historical and artistic interest” and ordered to appear in an Italian court. Both will carry a criminal record in Italy.
Carabinieri Captain Lorenzo Iacobone said the girls apologized but he said that such destructive acts “are extremely serious, and no one considers the damage they are creating.”
According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, a 42-year old Russian tourist was also caught carving his initials into the historical monument in February. His appearance in an Italian court landed him a 4-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros.
A spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome says defacing the Colosseum is forbidden.
“There’s a difference in perception. Museums are treated like churches, sacred places where there are things of great value” he said. “Whereas the Colosseum is an incomplete building which has already been robbed.”
Due to recent terrorist attacks, local police have increased security around the Roman ruins.