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

Video of the incident has gone viral on social media, at a time when Romans have previously complained about hordes of tourists flooding the Eternal City in record numbers this season.

The graffiti, which reads “Ivan Haley 23”, was carved into the nearly 2,000-year-old Flavian Amphitheater.

The Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, spoke of a gesture “serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility”. He said he hoped the culprits would be found “and punished according to our laws.”

Previous cases of tourists doodling on the Colosseum have resulted in fines of thousands of dollars.

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche also said she hoped the tourist would be sanctioned “so that he understands the seriousness of the gesture”. Calling for respect for Italy’s culture and history, she added, “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 (CDN$28,800) for carving a large letter “K” on a Colosseum wall, received summary judgment, and was sentenced to four years in prison. suspended prison sentence.

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

Italian tourism lobby Federturismo, backed by statistics office ISTAT, said 2023 is shaping up to be a record high for visitors to Italy, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels that peaked in 2019.