Two California Girls Arrested for Carving Initials into Wall at Rome’s Colosseum

It looks like the selfie crazy has gone too far, and this time it ended with two American women being arrested.

Daily Italian newspaper La Stampa reports that fellow tourists spotted the 21 and 25-year-old women using a coin to carve their initials into a wall inside Rome’s Colosseum. They carved a “J” and an “N” — around 8cm high — then snapped a selfie of themselves next to the initials right before they were arrested by police. They may face a fine for “aggravated damage” on a building of historical and artistic interest.

The women are from California, and their names have not yet been released.

According to CNN, the fine could be pretty steep.

If one Russian’s experience is anything to go by, the price won’t be cheap.

Last November, authorities in Rome slapped a 20,000-euro ($21,685) penalty on a Russian tourist caught carving his name into the famed landmark.

The 42-year-old man was apprehended after a guard at the Colosseum saw him carve the letter “K” in a section of brickwork.

After police caught up with him, the man was found guilty of causing aggravated damage, fined and given a four-month suspended sentence.

The section that was defaced on Saturday dates to the 1800s — not one of the structure’s original walls, but very old and considered an antique nonetheless. It was constructed when the pope initiated restoration work on the Colosseum.

As The Guardian points out, there are signs in both English and Italian saying that it is illegal to deface the wall. However, it seems that tourists often view crumbling monuments like the Colosseum differently than they view the Vatican or more contemporary sites.

“There’s a difference in perception,” said a spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome. “Museums are treated like churches, sacred places where there are things of great value. Whereas the Colosseum is an incomplete building which has already been robbed.”

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