Two American tourists could be facing a stiff penalty in Italy after police caught them allegedly trying to carve their names into a wall of Rome’s Colosseum.
A recent article from BuzzFeed cites three Italian-language newspapers that reported the incident.
The Guardian reports the two California women, ages 21 and 25, were said to have broken away from their tour group Saturday and used a coin to scratch the letters “J” and “N” into a wall of the historic landmark.
Various reports, including one from CNN, indicate the women then took a selfie of themselves before other tourists saw them and reported the alleged vandalism to police.
The two were charged with “aggravated damage on a building of historical and artistic interest,” and may now have to face a judge.
Their names have not been released.
“We apologize for what we did,” the pair is quoted as saying by BuzzFeed. “We regret it, but we did not imagine it was something so serious.”
A spokesman for the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome told The Guardian that such vandalism is somewhat routine despite signs, in both English and Italian, notifying tourists that it is forbidden.
The unnamed spokesman said tourists tend to view the crumbling Colosseum differently than other landmarks in Rome.
“There’s a difference in perception," the spokesman said. "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."
Five tourists were caught defacing the Colosseum’s walls last year, according to CNN.
One man, a Russian, was penalized with a fine of nearly $22,000 for carving a single initial into a brick wall at the site.
The other tourists caught last year were from Australia, Brazil and Canada.
No court date has been reported for the two American women who were recently charged.