A tour operator who threatened to kill himself by leaping from an arch near the top of Rome’s Colosseum has been talked down and arrested after a two-hour standoff.
The man was furious over a recent order by Rome’s City Commissioner Paolo Tronca banning guided tours being sold on the streets of Rome, La Repubblica reported.
“We pay our taxes, we are Italian and we want to work,” the man shouted from the top of the Colosseum on Friday, before being talked down.
“This order has put all of us out of work and 45 tourist agencies that employ 2000 people risk bankruptcy,” he continued.
“Rickshaws and gladiators are illegal but we are not. We are just doing what people do at tourist hotspots the world over. This new law will kill our sector and put 2000 jobs at risk.”
Rome has cracked down on men who dress up as gladiators and centurions and offer to pose for photographs in return for five euros. Some are accused of putting the hard word on tourists and demanding extra cash.
The city has gone further, outlawing the touts who approach tourists to sell bus tours or tickets to historic monuments. Bicycle-pedicabs have also been banned. Authorities say they are beefing up security and ridding Rome of rogues preying on tourists, but critics say they are going too far.
Rome is on the verge of a big new Catholic event to run through next year: the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which is expected to boost visitor numbers. The jubilee will run from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (8 December 2015) to the Feast of Christ the King (20 November 2016).
Like previous jubilees, it will be a holy year of remission of sins and universal pardon.
The mock gladiators and centurions around the Colosseum think pardon should be extended to them.
Roman authorities are embarrassed that someone evaded security at one of Italy’s most popular sites and scaled the Colosseum from the inside. While threatening to jump, the man seemed more keen to make a point, and came down unharmed when the point was made. Police said they would install new metal detectors at the Colosseum after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Written by Peter Needham