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US Tourists Carve Initials Into Colosseum, Take A Selfie, Get Arrested

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The world's most famous ancient Roman amphitheater is indelibly marked with the coin-scratched initials of two tourists hoping to take their best travel selfie yet.

On Saturday, Italian daily La Stampa reported Roman police arrested a pair of California women, aged 21 and 25, for "aggravated damage" to the wall of the Colosseum.

Fellow tour members reportedly notified Colosseum guards after spotting the American tourists scratching out the 3-inch-high letters "J" and "N."

They allegedly even took a selfie with their amateur graffiti carved into the wall of the amphitheater that's been standing since around 72 AD.

In a statement on behalf of the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome, a spokesman told The Guardian,

There's a difference in perception. Museums are treated like churches, sacred places where there are things of great value. Whereas the Colosseum is an incomplete building which has already been robbed... It's not an original wall but it's nevertheless antique.

Like any weathered monument, the Colosseum is no stranger to damage.

La Stampa notes a Russian tourist received a $21,700 fine (€20,000) and four months suspended jail time in November for carving his own initial into the wall.

While there's no word on punishment for the two tourists just yet, the women reportedly had no idea the kind of irreparable damage they were causing.

They noted they'll never forget this tourism etiquette lesson they learned the hard way.

Citations: Incidono le iniziali sul Colosseo e si scattano un selfie: denunciate due turiste californiane (La Stampa), U.S. tourists arrested for carving initials into wall at Romes Colosseum (CNN), US tourists caught carving names into Romeu2019s Colosseum (The Guardian)