Art & Architecture + [Southern Europe]

Italy: Turkish student convicted for carving name on ancient Roman column
“Aziz”. Four letters, carved using a 10-cent coin on a column on the Palatine Hill, have now become an eternal testimony of the name of a vandal arrested two days ago during a trip to Rome’s Imperial Fora.

Turkish student convicted for carving name on ancient Roman column
The Turkish student was arrested by carabinieri on Sunday for having vandalised a column 
in the Roman Forum. He was fined €200, and will have to pay a further €2000 
to the city council [Credit: Corriere della Sera]

On Sunday afternoon, the Turkish Erasmus student Aziz Multu was arrested for leaving a mark of his visit for posterity, at the cost of disfiguring the ancient ruins.

That at least was his intention, but it is hoped that after delicate – and expensive – restoration work, the column may be restored to its former condition.

The man was arrested after a group of tourists had alerted a carabinieri patrol that an unknown person was busy carving something on the column.

“I saw that there were other names, and I wanted to add mine. I didn’t realise it was forbidden”, the 40-year-old Turkish man explained yesterday in court, after spending Sunday night in the cells.

The hearing ended with him being sentenced to pay a fine of €200 for aggravated damage, as requested by state prosecutor Mauro Masnaghetti. Aziz Multu has since been released, but his troubles are not over: he will now have to shell out €2000 in damages to the city council for having disfigured a column dating from the 2nd century AD.

Multu’s was not a light punishment, if we consider that he was also arrested. On the other hand, while there have been dozens of complaints, he is only the second vandal to end up behind bars for disfiguring a monument.

The first was the Russian Akaev Kazbek, 42, who on 21 November last year carved a large ‘K’ on a wall of the Colosseum with a stone. The letter was 25 cm high and 25 wide.

The tourist was arrested and immediately sentenced to four months in prison. Scores of visitors have in fact been unable to resist leaving their mark on the famous amphitheatre.

Recent cases include a Lebanese man on holiday with his parents, and two Canadian girls, who went so far as to take a souvenir selfie to immortalise their act of bravado.

Source: Corriere della Sera [December 23, 2015]