Rome mayor Virginia Raggi is writing to the British ambassador to Italy and other envoys in a bid to ban football hooligans and “uncivilized” tourists caught vandalising historic treasures from returning to the Eternal City.
|Rome Cityscape [Credit: Andrea Mazzocchetti]
The mayor says Rome is a UNESCO heritage site and deserves greater protection. The council plans to draw up a “blacklist” of people caught damaging historic or archaeological sites and notify the vandals’ embassies to try and prevent them from returning to Rome.
“The mayor wants to target the uncivilized and football fans like those who damaged the fountain in front of the Spanish Steps a couple of years ago,” a spokesman for the mayor told The Daily Telegraph.
“Those who commit crimes of this nature are not welcome in the capital. We are looking for ambassadors to stop them from coming back.”
Drunken Dutch fans went on a rampage after a match in 2015 and caused serious damage to the 500-year-old Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Police had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd and around 30 fans were arrested.
|The Barcaccia fountain in Rome was damaged after clahes between Feyenoord’s supporters
and Italian Police in 2015 [Credit: EPA/Vincenzo Tersigni]
The mayor’s letter is expected to be sent to ambassadors representing the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands and other countries, her spokesman said.
But Mayor Raggi is likely to need a national law to enforce any ban and has already had talks with Matteo Salvini, the interior minister, about her plan.
The mayor’s initiative comes as security was stepped up at the Colosseum after tourists carved initials in the walls of the ancient amphitheatre in three separate incidents in the past week.
In the latest, a 29-year-old Hungarian visitor was caught carving his initials in the wall of the 2000-year-old amphitheater and charged with damaging the city’s heritage. “I didn’t know it was forbidden,” the tourist reportedly said.
|Rome’s famed Spanish Steps underwent restoration from 2015
[Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi]
Last week an Israeli woman was caught engraving the initials of her husband and children on the monument and last Sunday a 17-year-old Bulgarian schoolgirl was arrested for chiseling the letter “M” on a Colosseum wall.
The Colosseum is fighting back with new measures. From the beginning of May the number of private guards has been doubled to 32.
Staff have also begun making announcements in multiple languages at the entrance warning tourists they face legal action and fines if they damage the country’s most popular archaeological site.
“We have had enough of the ignorant, the uncivilized but also sick people,” said Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum. They are looking for notoriety inside the world’s most important monument. I think these people should be banned from cultural sites.”
|The Colosseum has been defaced several times recently [Credit: Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/
Lightrocket via Getty Images]
The Colosseum is not the only cultural treasure to have been targeted by vandals. Last year Italians were horrified when several male tourists, believed to be English, stripped naked and jumped into a fountain at the Victor Emmanuel Monument next to city hall and several tourists have been fined for jumping into the Trevi Fountain.
In 2017 Rome introduced fines for anyone caught wading into any of the city’s fountains to escape the heat.