Tourist Detained After Vandalizing Ancient Pompeii House

Another summer, another tourist vandalizing an ancient site in Italy. A Kazakh tourist was detained at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii on Saturday, June 22 after he was caught etching his name onto a plaster wall in one of the city’s famous houses. According to the Kazakh news agency Kazinform, the unidentified tourist was released by Carabinieri (Italian law enforcement) after “completing all the necessary formalities,” and will be forced to pay for the repair of the damages he inflicted.

Joining other illicit carvings on the same surface, the letters “ALI” were scratched onto a wall inside the House of Ceii in Pompeii, which was excavated between 1913 and 1914 and likely belonged to the magistrate Lucius Ceius Secundus, according to an electoral inscription painted on the façade. Ornately designed and filled with colorful, illustrative frescoes, the House of Ceii is considered one of the few remaining examples of residential architecture from the late Samnite period (2nd century BCE).

In a public statement, Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano called the act of vandalism to the Pompeiian home “an uncivilized and idiotic disgrace caused to our artistic and cultural heritage” and assured that the offender would be obligated to pay for the repairs to the wall. Denouncing visitors’ vandalism across the nation, he referenced an incident from earlier this month in which a Dutch tourist tagged a wall in the ancient city of Herculaneum. Almost exactly a year ago, a tourist visiting from England scratched his and his girlfriend’s names onto a refurbished wall at the Roman Colosseum, inciting ire on an international level.

Last year, Sangiuliano proposed a law to greatly increase fines to those who damage or vandalize Italy’s preserved monuments and cultural heritage sites — a piece of legislation some say was introduced to dissuade climate crisis activists from targeting cultural sites during their public interventions. The motion passed in January of this year.

Kazinform reported that the offender “will not be subject to criminal prosecution” as additional proceedings will be carried out administratively. Neither the Italian Ministry of Culture nor the Archaeological Park of Pompeii immediately responded to Hyperallergic‘s request for comment regarding additional consequences.


Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual…
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