(KTLA) – Officials in Italy have vowed to find and punish a tourist who was recently filmed defacing a wall of the Colosseum in Rome.
A tourist from California was visiting the site Friday when he saw the man carving a message reading “Ivan+Haley 23” into the stone.
“I was pretty upset,” said Ryan Lutz, who spoke with Nexstar’s KTLA.
Lutz is currently on a two-month tour of Europe. He said he visited the Colosseum after becoming “entranced” by depictions of ancient Rome in movies and TV, citing “The Gladiator” as one of his favorites.
“I wanted to see it and it came to life,” Lutz said.
But his visit was ruined when he spotted a man carving his name into one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Lutz recorded the tourist and said he confronted him, but the video shows the vandal grinning as he continues to carve with what appeared to be a set of keys.
“You always hate to see any tourist doing that … You kind of hold out hope that they’re not American,” said Lutz, who felt that American tourists already have a bad reputation abroad.
Lutz said he reported the incident and offered his video to security guards, but they didn’t seem interested. Later, when he posted his video on Reddit, it went viral, prompting an international reaction.
Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano is now calling for the person to be “identified and sanctioned.”
“We cannot allow those who visit our nation to feel free to behave in this way,” tourism minister Daniela Santanche added.
Outside the Colosseum on Tuesday, other visitors agreed.
“We have to preserve what we have,” said Diego Cruz, an American student, in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “There is a rich history here. It helps us learn from the past.”
Lutz agreed that tourists should show respect when visiting other countries.
“Be humble. Have an attitude in contrast to what I saw at the Colosseum. … Whatever fun you have just make sure you’re not being offensive to your host country,” he said.
Tourists have been punished for carving their initials on the Colosseum in the past. A few years ago, a Russian visitor was fined $20,000 and given a four-month prison sentence for carving the letter “K” onto a wall at the Colosseum.
If identified, the tourist who carved into the Colosseum on Friday could face similar repercussions. Italian officials said punishments could include a fine of up to 15,000 Euros and up to five years in jail, according to Italy’s ANSA news agency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.