American Couple Returns Roman Artifact; Italians Wonder What the Hell to Do With It.

Posted on
May 7, 2009

25 years ago, an American couple traveling in Italy snatched up a hunk of some ruins as a souvenir, and wracked with guilt, returned it decades later.

“We appreciate the gesture,” Italian police were quoted as saying. “But WTF. It’s a rock. It’s not like we even realized it was gone.”*

In all fairness, props to the couple for doing the right, though seemingly pointless, thing. In the future, I’d advice them not to take ruins home in the first place. Even if you place it next to a framed photo of the Colosseum, and you explain to friends what it is, no one will be impressed. They’ll just wonder why you have a concrete turd on your mantle.

I realize that the Italian government doesn’t really do the *best* job preserving all of the rich antiquities the country has to offer. That at some point, they just realized they had so many damn churches, amphitheaters, museums, and works of art, that they sort of stopped paying close attention to stuff. It’s like expecting Britney Spears to keep track of all her kids.

Whereas here in the states, we put anything that’s more than 100 years old on the National Register, over there kids spray graffiti on stuff that’s “only five-hundred years old”. And I realize that’s frustrating. And I realize that it might last a lot longer in your home than theirs. But we are not the British National Museum, folks. We can’t pillage stuff under the guise of “safe-keeping.” Besides that, Italy is actually making a concerted effort to crack down on antiquities thieves and dealers.

So let ruins lie where they may. You could easily take something home, but you shouldn’t. It belongs where it is. And if you get frustrated at the Italians’ seeming disregard for their own national treasures, just remember: it’s all about perspective. My cousin lives in a village with a 1,000 year old church, and roads so narrow that he has to pull in the side mirrors on his car. But I dazzled him (no joke) with a friggin apple corer. He brought one back to Italy with him. But of course, it was his for the taking.

*My translation might be a little off.

Leave a Comment

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • Thinking I just need to make all of @alisoneroman's recipes and write about it, Julie & Julia style.
  • When your friend catches you going full Lady and the Tramp with your beloved over a noodle.
  • Latkes with dill and shallots, topped with creme fraiche plus salmon roe. Merry Chrismukkah to all.
  • Okay, I'll admit: I really like how these came out. I need to get more adventurous with glazes, but I'm so digging this shape.
  • A sneak peek at the photoshoot that @hayleyyoungshotme did this morning at @majesticbaytheatres. We're going to be featured in an issue of Seattle Magazine early next year - about Seattle couples. Super excited. Details and more of shots of amazing hair as we get closer to the publication date.
  • Couldn't see what the barber was doing, but when he said "You want a design?" I replied, "HELL YES" and this happened. I'm delighted with the results.
  • Happy Halloween from the Joker and Harley Quinn, and to hell with the misogynistic manbabies out there.
  • First photo ever tagged of us on Facebook. Circa 12 years ago. Can we talk about how I've aged like an overripe piece of fruit left in the sun, but @randderuiter has only gotten hotter?
  • I call this look "I just ate a whole bunch of Violet Crumble and now I'm about to fall asleep from the sugar crash."
  • New personal slogan.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.

BE AWESOME. BUY IT.