Over the weekend, a tourist climbed the renowned 16th-century Fountain of Neptune in Florence, Italy, causing damage by breaking off a marble segment, resulting in an estimated €5,000 worth of damages.
A video posted on X social media, formerly known as Twitter, by Florence Mayor Dario Nardella shows the tourist climbing the iconic Fountain of Neptune to take a picture.
“This tourist has seen fit to go to Neptune for a selfie. Luckily, there was no damage, and the alarm system worked. Thanks to the cameras of the Municipality, he has been identified and will pay a hefty fine. There is no justification for vandalism of cultural heritage,” he wrote on X.
The 22-year-old caused damage when he climbed onto the statue’s chariot, breaking a piece of marble as well as damaging one of the horse’s hooves on the way down. Using footage from the Municipality’s cameras, he was successfully identified and found by local police only a few hours later.
The Fountain of Neptune, which underwent a comprehensive restoration in 2018, was built in the 16th century to commemorate the marriage between a member of the House of Medici and an Archduchess of Austria.
This incident is not the first case of vandalism in Italy’s historic sites this summer. In another similar incident last month, a group of young German tourists faced accusations of damaging a valuable 19th-century Italian fountain statue. Surveillance footage captured them toppling the figure as they posed for pictures.
During the same month in Florence, a viral video depicted a tourist climbing to the top of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain to fill her water bottle, provoking widespread outrage among netizens. The Domina statue, created by the artist Enrico Butti, is about 150 years old and is valued at around €200,000.
In addition, in July 2023, British Tourist Ivan Dimitrov apologised for his actions in demolishing the ancient Roman Colosseum. The 27-year-old fitness instructor, originally from Bulgaria, had been visiting Rome with his girlfriend, Hayley Bracey.
Video footage of Dimitrov carving “Ivan+Hayley 23” into the 2,000-year-old monument quickly gained widespread attention, sparking outrage and condemnation of what appeared to be an act of vandalism.
Dimitrov, who lives in Bristol in southwest England, was told he could face serious legal consequences for his actions. Since the Colosseum is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, he can be fined up to €15,000 or even jailed for up to five years for destroying this important cultural monument.