Ancient Rome Sightseeing: A Cobblestone for the Road, Shall We?
It would seem obvious that just about every cobblestone in ancient Rome is part of its patrimony, but it does bear repeating as more and more Rome tourists help themselves to a loose cobble stone or piece of mosaic they have found while wandering around sightseeing in Rome and decide its a souvenir to take home.
Ancient Romans used volcanic stone to make the cobbles for the roads that led away from the city and they date back 2,000 years. On Sunday, police in Rome put on display a vast collection of the cobblestones and artefacts that they have seized from passenger luggage in the first six months of this year. And it was quite a collection.
"They then put it in their luggage and take it home with them as a souvenir of their holiday – we have also found large milestones made from marble in suitcases that have been taken from the Appian Way."
Although the items have no real monetary value, Mr Del Greco said it was technically still theft and they are "taking away part of Rome's culture and heritage".
Mr Del Greco added that those caught were left "highly embarrassed" but were not arrested, instead they were cautioned and allowed to return home and their ancient souvenirs returned.
Umberto Broccoli, superintendent of culture for Rome city council, said: "I should warn all tourists that the city's rich heritage should not be touched. What these people do by stealing these items is show their ignorance."
"I can understand the legend and splendour that is Rome but that does not mean bits of it should be stolen by all means tourists should take as many pictures as they like but they should not help themselves to cobblestones or other items even if they appear to be discarded. If they want a souvenir of their visit then they should buy something from a shop."
So the next time you are in Rome enjoy the city, take lots of photos, but leave Rome's stones where they are. Buon viaggio!