In the latest attack on Italian cultural landmarks, a tourist defaced the cherished Vasari Corridor, an act that the director of Florence’s Uffizi Galleries says should be dealt with a firm hand, according to the Associated Press.
The exterior columns of the Corridor, a nearly 500-year-old passageway along the river Arno between the Uffizi’s Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti, was tagged with graffiti related to the Munich soccer club in the early morning hours of August 23. According to CNN, the two alleged vandals were part of a group of 11 German tourists who were staying at an Airbnb in the center of Florence.
The two suspects were arrested after the Carabinieri raided their Airbnb, where they found two cans of black spray paint and paint-stained clothes.
“Clearly this is not a drunken whim, but a premeditated act,’’ Uffizi director Eike Schmidt said in a statement. Schmidt called for severe punishment of the suspects, adding that in the United States similar crimes can carry a prison sentence of five years. “Enough with symbolic punishments and imaginative extenuating circumstances. We need the hard fist of the law.”
The vandals caused around $10,800 worth of damage to the Corridor, according to the Italian Ministry of Culture, and the repairs will be carried out under the protection of armed guards.
The Vasari Corridor was built by Giorgio Vasari, and Italian Renaissance painter and architect, in 1565. The one-kilometer-long structure was completed in less than 9 months. It was designed to serve as a secret route between the private family in the Boboli Gardens and the administrative offices of the then-head of the Medici family, Cosimo I de’Medici.
The tagging of the Vasari Corridor is the latest in a string of vandalism in Italy. Earlier this summer, a tourist was filmed carving his and his girlfriend’s names into a wall of the Colosseum in Rome, while in Milan the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was defaced with graffiti.