Italian police hunt tourist who posed for selfie on Pompeii ruins

The tourist climbed onto the walls of Pompeii's thermal baths  - Antonio Irlando Facebook
The tourist climbed onto the walls of Pompeii's thermal baths - Antonio Irlando Facebook

Italian police are searching for a tourist who climbed on top of the ruins of Pompeii to take a selfie.

Massimo Osanna, until recently the head of the archeological site and now director- general of Italy’s heritage sites, called the young woman’s behaviour “deplorable”.

Officials said she not only risked damaging the 2,000-year-old site but had also put herself in danger.

Police are trying to identify the name, age and nationality of the woman from images she posted on social media as well as CCTV footage.

She was also photographed by other tourists, who were appalled to see her clamber onto the ruins of Pompeii’s thermal baths.

If found and prosecuted, she faces a prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to €3,000 (£2,715).

The visitor’s behaviour prompted outrage among many Italians, who are wearily familiar with tourists treating their cultural heritage with a cavalier attitude, from skinny-dipping in Baroque fountains to clambering over classical statues.

“It is never nice to wish ill towards someone but in this case it is impossible not to hope that the Carabinieri will identify her and apply the law severely,” said an editorial in Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Tourists are regularly caught chipping off bits of mosaic or pocketing lumps of masonry at Pompeii, which was buried by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD 79.

Bad behaviour by tourists is not confined to the ancient Roman site.

Two weeks ago, an Austrian tourist accidentally snapped off the toes of a 200-year-old sculpture after lounging on it for a photograph.

Security video footage from a museum in Possagno in northern Italy showed the 50-year-old nonchalantly resting on the statue of a woman by the 18th century sculptor Antonio Canova before realising with embarrassment that he had broken its toes:

The incident received widespread coverage in the Italian media and the middle-aged man eventually gave himself up, saying he was sorry and would pay for the damage.