For some people, a classroom desk just isn’t enough.
Dimitrov was busted using a key to carve “Ivan + Hayley 23” — his and his girlfriend’s names — into the stones of the nearly 2,000-year-old amphitheater.
On July 4, Dimitrov offered a “heartfelt and honest” apology “to the Italians and to the whole world” in a letter.
Portions of his message were published Wednesday in the newspaper Il Messaggero, and have been translated by both the Times and the BBC.
According to both outlets, Dimitrov claimed he was ignorant about the ancient site’s age and significance.
“I admit with deepest embarrassment that it was only after what regrettably happened that I learned of the monument’s antiquity,” Dimitrov said in the letter, which was addressed to the Rome prosecutor’s office, the mayor of Rome and “the municipality of Rome,” per the Times.
Dimitrov acknowledged the “seriousness of the deed I committed,” and praised the people who “guard the inestimable historical and artistic value of the Colosseum with dedication, care and sacrifice.”
A bystander caught Dimitrov’s vandalism on camera in late June. In videos available on YouTube, you can hear the bystander reprimanding Dimitrov, who eventually turns around mid-etching and gives the camera a sly smile.
The bystander eventually turned the footage in to security, and the video was posted online.
The Italian culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, publicly condemned the act when it came to light last month.
“I consider it very serious, unworthy and a sign of great incivility that a tourist defaces one of the most famous places in the world, the Colosseum, to engrave the name of his fiancee,” Sangiuliano tweeted at the time, according to a translation by Sky News. “I hope that whoever did this will be identified and sanctioned according to our laws.”
Dimitrov was eventually identified by Italian military police officers, who cross-checked the names “Ivan” and “Haley” with registered guests in Rome and found the couple had stayed in an Airbnb rental in the Cinecittà neighborhood, per the Times.
The couple was tracked to England, but according to the Times, Dimitrov’s girlfriend is not under investigation.
The Times also notes that the brick that Dimitrov tagged was part of a wall built during a mid-19th century restoration of the monument. However, Colosseum authorities said it is still an act of vandalism.
If convicted for the offense, Dimitrov could face a fine of up to 15,000 euros (£12,500 GBP or $16,311 USD) as well as a prison sentence of two to five years, according to the BBC.
This is not the first time someone has vandalized the Colosseum. Two tourists from California made headlines in 2015 when they snuck away from their tour group to etch their initials into the monument and take selfies. Both women were quickly arrested.
BuzzFeed reported at the time that the women apologized, saying: “We regret it, but we did not imagine it was something so serious.”