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    Tourist from Orange recorded viral video of man etching into wall of the Colosseum in Rome
    • June 26, 2023

    Ryan Lutz was so appalled at the sight he stumbled upon while strolling around the famed Colosseum in Rome, the tourist from Orange started filming with his phone.

    The footage shows a person appearing to etch names into the nearly 2,000-year-old bricks of the ancient amphitheater, defacing one of the most famous landmarks in the world – one that draws millions of visitors each year.

    The video of the June 23 incident has made international news, drawing heavy criticism for the apparent act of vandalism. Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has called for the person to be “identified and sanctioned.”

    “I consider it very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility that a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, a historical heritage (site) such as the Colosseum, to carve the name of his fiancée,” Sangiuliano tweeted on Monday, June 26. “I hope that whoever carried out this act will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws.”

    Lutz, reached by phone in Athens, Greece, on Monday, June 26, said graffiti “bugs the hell out of me,” especially at such a historical site, so he was compelled to take out his phone and start filming.

    As shown in the video, Lutz came up from behind the man who appears to be etching into the brick, with Lutz mumbling just loud enough to get his attention.

    “Are you serious, man?” Lutz said, following with a few profanities to emphasize his outrage.

    The man gave him a smile and continued etching, which Lutz said irked him even more.

    “No shame, whatsoever,” Lutz said. “After that I think, ‘OK, I have to notify someone.’”

    He found a guard at the Colosseum’s exit to report the man, saying he had video proof. But after Lutz pointed the man out, he said the security guard returned to his post, saying there was nothing he could do because he didn’t witness the act happening.

    So Lutz asked to see a supervisor and said he was assured the authorities would be contacted and something would be done about it, but that Lutz could leave.

    “It was kind of a bummer end for my trip to the Colosseum,” he said.

    He got back to his hostel and told his bunkmate about the encounter, still riled up. It was suggested Lutz post his video, which he did, uploading it on Reddit.

    Little did he know how far it would go or the outrage that would ensue. International media has picked up the story and the short video he took spread.

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    If convicted of a crime, the man could face a fine of at least $16,360 or up to five years in prison, CNN reported. 

    The Daily Mail in the UK interviewed Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum, who said the police are attempting to track down the man.

    ‘When you get uneducated people at the Colosseum this kind of hooliganism happens and I hope there are no copycats,” Russo said to the Daily Mail. 

    According to the BBC, a Russian tourist in 2014 was fined about $20,000 and given a four-month prison sentence for carving his initial, K, onto a wall of the Colosseum. The Russian tourist was the fifth foreign visitor that year to be fined for defacing the Colosseum, according to the BBC, and authorities in Rome announced plans to increase surveillance cameras at the ancient monument.

    In 2020, an Irish tourist was accused by Colosseum security of carving his initials into the monument.

    The Colosseum, considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is a World Heritage Site, along with 54 other Italian sites that comprise the city’s historic center.

    Ryan Lutz, of Orange, seen at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, where he took a viral video of a man etching into the historic monument. (Photo courtesy of Lutz)

    Lutz is on a two-month tour around Europe, a needed break after recently graduating with a geography degree from Cal Poly Pomona. Between visiting ancient sites and exploring, he’s now answering news media interview requests as he continues his journey.

    The traveling tourist said he lived abroad when he was 19 in London and said it’s important to him to try to change people’s perception of American tourists.

    “I don’t want that reputation. I try my best to be a humble, dedicated traveler,” Lutz said. “I appreciate other countries and I am there as their guest. Don’t mess around with your host country.”

    CNN contributed to this report.

    ​ Orange County Register