“Unaware” of its Antiquity, Tourist Who Defaced Colosseum Apologizes

Ivan Danailov Dimitrov, the tourist who sparked widespread anger after carving a love note into Rome’s historic Colosseum, has issued an apology. He claims he did not comprehend the ancient heritage of the monument, an oversight he admits with deep regret.

by Carlo Longo

Ivan Danailov Dimitrov, the tourist who caused national outrage when he etched a love message into the iconic Colosseum, has issued a heartfelt apology, expressing shame over his ignorance of the ancient Roman structure’s historic significance.

In a letter penned to the city’s mayor and prosecutor, 27-year-old Dimitrov conceded the severity of his actions, extending apologies to Italy’s citizens and the world for his defacement of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“Regrettably, my actions towards the Colosseum were characterized by levity, indifference, and discourtesy, much to the displeasure of other visitors,” Dimitrov expressed remorse in Italian in the letter, translated by The Washington Post. “I offer no excuses.”

Dimitrov committed to owning up to his actions and recognized the “incalculable artistic and historic value” of the landmark.

“It’s with profound regret that I admit my understanding of the monument’s antiquity only dawned upon me following this unfortunate episode,” he added.

Dimitrov’s lawyer, Alexandro Maria Tirelli, noted in a communication that a plea deal, aimed at sparing his client jail time, was in the works. He mentioned that although negotiations were still underway, the prosecutor had concurred on a non-incarceration agreement.

As of Thursday afternoon, neither prosecutors nor representatives for Italy’s national police, the Carabinieri, were available for comments. Last week, The Associated Press revealed that the suspect was identified through photographs as a UK resident.

Footage displaying Dimitrov’s face went viral in late June. It showed him using a key to inscribe “Ivan + Hayley 23” on the monument’s wall. Ryan Lutz, the American tourist who filmed the incident, reported the event to security personnel, confessing to NBC News his astonishment.

Lutz urged for the culprit to learn a lesson from the incident, adding, “One should never disrespect host nations.”

Italian officials expressed their fury on social media, with Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano describing the act as “a sign of extreme incivility”. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Daniela Santanchè expressed her hope on Twitter for the offender to face penalties.

According to Italy’s ANSA news agency, the potential consequences for Dimitrov’s actions could include a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine exceeding $16,000.