2 California women face trial for vandalizing the Colosseum

Mar 9, 2015 11:32 AM by CBS/AP

ROME -- Two American tourists have been ordered to appear in court for carving their names into the Colosseum, the latest act of vandalism sustained by the ancient monument at the hands of tourists.

Carabinieri Captain Lorenzo Iacobone said Monday two tourists from California, ages 21 and 25, were picked up Saturday for carving their names three inches high into an upper level of the Colosseum. They were freed later but will face trial for aggravated damage to a monument.

Iacobone said the young women apologized for the vandalism, but he said such acts "are extremely serious, and no one considers the damage they are creating."

A Russian tourist who carved his initials into the Colosseum in November was handed a four-month suspended sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros.

As "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer reported in October, six million tourists a year visit the Colosseum, snapping selfies and posing with rent-a-gladiators who pass the time with cigarettes and cell phones. The place has survived fires and earthquakes over the centuries. Now there's a new crisis: finding the money to manage the crowds and keep up with basic maintenance.

The Colosseum is getting a badly needed facelift, Safer reported, with the help of $35 million from Diego Della Valle, a prominent Italian businessman.

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