A colleague on Friday defended an Israeli woman detained in Rome for starting to carve her family’s initials into a column of the Colosseum, claiming she only used chalk stones, and that there were no signs saying it was forbidden.
The woman involved is a 39-year old from central Israel who was reportedly in Italy chaperoning a children’s dance troupe.
She was detained Thursday after she was found using a rock to etch her initials and those of her husband and children into one of the inner pillars in the Roman arena, the world’s largest amphitheater, which dates from 70-80 CE.
She had carved several letters before she was spotted and stopped.
However, a colleague identified as Eli who was with her, defended her actions.
“It looked like a wall that everyone drew on and there were no signs saying it is forbidden,” he told Ynet. “She drew the letters with chalk stones that were next to the wall, it looked like they were placed there just for that purpose.”
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“The whole wall was full of writing,” said another member of the group. “Maybe it’s forbidden, but everyone does it. She just got caught.”
Local police later released her on bail and she was expected to appear before a judge in the coming days to face charges of vandalizing an historic building. Ynet said the hearing would be held May 2 and she would likely receive a fine.
Reports said the Israeli woman was only the latest of several people arrested for such vandalism at the Colosseum.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the incident and it was being dealt with by the consul in Rome.
Officials at the site said the damage was minor and would be repaired quickly.
“People who vandalize are not people who should be visiting museums and cultural sites,” Italian media quoted Alfonsina Russo, the director of the Colosseum, as saying.
“What is surprising here is that we are talking about tourists who came from another country especially to learn about the heart of Western civilization,” she said.