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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Are you surprised to hear that the biggest threat to preserving Rome’s ancient mosaics is tourists? Not because of the number of visitors but because so many are stealing the tiles, and even the stones from Rome’s ancient cobblestoned streets.

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Rome is falling to pieces but not because it’s getting older, because so many tourists want to take a piece of it home with them as a souvenir. Now more than ever Italian customs are finding pieces of tiles from mosaics, rocks and stones from the city’s ancient streets, even mile markers from the Appian Way in toursist’s luggage as they leave from holidays in Rome.

The staff at Rome’s two main airports have put them on display. Really an impressive array of artefacts, all collected from hand luggage at the airport.

Who are the worst? Airport officials say it’s the Northern Europeans. So far only a handful of Brits have been caught.

While the stones really don’t have any monetary value, it’s clear that tourists are really taking away something from Rome, part of the culture and heritage when they pocket souvenir stones and seemingly innocent tiles. Most, when caught are highly embarrassed, as relics from Rome are taken from their bags. As of yet, no one has been arrested, only warned. City officials want to make it clear though that stealing, no matter how insignificant, will not be tolerated.

Top souvenirs from Rome

(that won’t take away from the heritage of the city)

  • Photographs, take as many as you like!
  • Sweets, a box of Italian cookies shared with friends at home is way better than a tacky T-shirt no one will wear.
  • Small bottle of olive oil, the really good stuff.
  • Rosary blessed by the pope, or at least a photograph of him.

Reminds us of the time we rounded up all the funny things found in luggage… including 18 monkeys! What’s the funniest souvenir you’ve ever brought home from a trip?

Imgs: goforchris, / Flickr cc.

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