After an American tourist demands to see Pope Francis, he smashes two sculptures in the Vatican
By Julia Buckley, CNN
Just when you thought the summer of misbehaving tourists was over, another person on vacation destroys another priceless artifact.
This time it’s the turn of an American tourist who smashed into pieces no less than two ancient Roman sculptures at the Vatican on Wednesday.
The episode took place around midday in the Museo Chiaramonti, part of the Vatican Museums. The room houses around 1,000 works of ancient statues and describes itself as “one of the finest collections of Roman portraits” in the world.
Two of those portraits now face an uncertain future after the tourist angrily knocked over one and toppled another while fleeing the scene.
According to the newspaper Il Messaggero, the man had asked to see the Pope. When told he couldn’t do it, he reportedly threw a Roman bust on the ground.
As he ran after it with the staff, he knocked down another.
The two works of art were brought to the in-house workshop for appraisal. Although they are around 2,000 years old, they are considered secondary works of art rather than famous works, a source told Il Messaggero.
Vatican Museums press office director Matteo Alessandrini told CNN the American, around 50, is in the corridor of the Galleria Chiaramonte, which features around 100 busts and statues.
“The busts were nailed to shelves, but if you force them down, they come off,” he said. “He ripped one off and then the other and the guards immediately came and stopped him and handed him over to the Vatican police who took him in for questioning. At around 5:30 p.m. he was handed over to the Italian authorities.
“The 2 busts were damaged, but not particularly badly. One lost part of a nose and an ear, the other’s head fell off the pedestal.”
He said that restoration work had already begun and that “they will be restored and back in the museum soon.”
Mountain Butorac, who guides pilgrimages to the Vatican and frequents the Museo Chiaramonti, said: “One of the beautiful things is that it allows visitors to literally see these ancient sculptures face to face. My concern is that with such behavior, barriers could be erected.”
Tourists damaging monuments was an issue this summer in Rome. In July, a Canadian tourist was caught carving her name in the Colosseum, while American tourists were caught throwing scooters down the Spanish Steps, breaking off parts, and a Saudi visitor driving his Maserati down the same architectural icon.
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https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/07/after-demanding-to-see-the-pope-francis-american-tourist-smashes-two-sculptures-in-the-vatican/ After an American tourist demands to see Pope Francis, he smashes two sculptures in the Vatican