Tourist fined

Fifth foreign tourist caught vandalising the Colosseum this year

A Russian tourist has been fined €20,000 for engraving a large letter "K" on a wall inside the Colosseum on 21 November.

The man used a sharp stone to carve the 25-cm-tall letter on a ground-floor brick wall on the south side of the monument but was caught in the act by a guard and arrested.

The next day the 42-year-old tourist received a suspended four-year jail sentence and now has three months to pay the fine whose severity is described as "justified" by the Colosseum director Rossella Rea.

The city's archaeology superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera said the damage is "significant", adding that the incision removed part of the surface as well as "compromising the conservation and image" of the ancient structure.

The Russian is the fifth foreign tourist to be caught vandalising the Colosseum this year. Similar incidents involved a 45-year-old Australian man and his 12-year-old son scrawling on the monument in January, and in May a Brazilian teenager was also caught carving his name.

In March a Canadian teenager was apprehended while trying to leave the Colosseum with a brick from the monument in her backpack.

The Australian man was arrested on charges of vandalism but the minors evaded fines due to their age.

The Colosseum is currently undergoing a €25-million restoration project, sponsored by Italian shoe magnate Tods, while the monument made headlines recently after Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini backed a proposal to restore its arena floor.