Tourist filmed climbing on statue of Neptune.
A 22-year-old German tourist caused €5,000 worth of damage to a historic statue of Neptune in the centre of Florence after climbing on to the monument to have his photograph taken.
The tourist was filmed by surveillance cameras posing on the 16th-century fountain in the early hours of Monday morning, after he first climbed over the fountain before jumping on to a horse’s leg at the base of Neptune.
On his way back down the tourist stood on the horse’s hoof, damaging it due to his weight, as well as causing a segment of red marble to detach from Neptune’s chariot.
After the illegal photo shoot, the tourist fled the scene with his two friends, believing he had got away with the stunt.
However the city police promptly tracked him down and he now faces charges of damaging a cultural heritage monument, the city of Florence said in a statement.
Situated in Piazza della Signoria, the fountain was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1559 to celebrate the marriage of Francesco de’ Medici I to Grand Duchess Joanna of Austria.
The monument was damaged in 2005 after a vandal’s attempt to climb Neptune resulted in the loss of a hand, a broken trident and damage to the chariot.
This prompted the city to install CCTV cameras and introduce stricter security controls in the historic centre.
The latest vandalism to Florence’s cultural heritage comes a couple of weeks after German tourists sprayed football-related graffiti on the exterior of the Vasari Corridor which links the Uffizi Galleries with the Boboli Gardens.
Uffizi director Eike Schmidt condemned the “despicable act”, saying it was time to swap “symbolic punishments” for the “iron fist of the law”.
Pledging a “zero tolerance” approach, culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano stated: “Acts like this must not go unpunished. Now let justice take its course.”
Italy’s cultural landmarks have seen a spate of vandalism this summer, notably the Colosseum in Rome and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.