Police: German Tourists Vandalized 1565 Landmark

Italian officials call for more severe punishment than foreigners usually receive
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2023 5:00 PM CDT
Police: German Tourists Vandalized 1565 Landmark
The Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy.   (Getty/ChiccoDodiFC)

Another Italian historic site has been defaced, this time the Vasari Corridor in Florence, bringing calls to punish such attacks more severely. Police identified the vandals as two German men, ages 20 and 21, who are part of a group of 11 students, CNN reports. Soccer-related graffiti was left on the corridor's columns. A raid of the Airbnb where they're staying turned up black spray paint and paint-stained clothing, police said, after the damage was done shortly before dawn Wednesday. The men reportedly were identified from surveillance video. Police questioned the 11 students and were comparing their fingerprints to those found on the paint cans.

The corridor is an aerial walkway connected to the Uffizi Galleries along the Arno River. It was built in in 1565 by Italian Renaissance painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, intended to provide a secret route for the head of the Medici dynasty, Cosimo I de'Medici, between family homes. Restoration will cost more than $10,000, Italy's Culture Ministry said, and will be done under the watch of armed guards. Florence Mayor Gennaro Sangiuliano called the defacement a serious crime and said that vandals "need to understand that even a small scratch will be prosecuted from now on," per Sky News.

The director of the Uffizi called the crime despicable and urged applying the "iron fist of the law" instead of imposing the sort of symbolic punishment often imposed on tourists—partly to avoid extradition issues. Eike Schmidt pointed out that similar crimes in the US can results in a five-year prison sentence. The culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, agreed that "acts like this must not go unpunished." Gennaro Sangiuliano added that "Now justice takes its course." The graffiti referred to a third-division German soccer club, mayor's officials told CNN, though they didn't know whether anyone in the group is connected to the Munich team. (The Colosseum was defaced in June.)

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