An American tourist has returned a fragment of ancient marble stolen from a trip to Rome — along with a note apologizing for “being such an American a--hole.”
The Nation Roman Museum received a bulky package this week from Atlanta, which contained the rock inscribed with the message, “To Sam, love Jess, Rome 2017” in black marker, the Guardian reported.
Along with the parcel was a letter asking for forgiveness from a visitor, who museum officials assume was a young woman named Jess.
“In 2017 she must have come to Rome, and took this fragment of marble in order to gift it to her boyfriend,” museum director Stéphane Verger told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
“It made an impact on me precisely because she is young — she understood that she had made a mistake.”
In the letter, the woman explained that she took something that was not “rightfully mine.”
“I feel terrible for not only stealing this item from its rightful place but placing writing on it,” she wrote. “It was a big mistake on my part and only now, as an adult, do I realize just how thoughtless and despicable it was.”
She said that she had tried to scrub the message off but without success — and apologized “for being such an American a--hole.”
The marble had been packaged to ensure that it would arrive safely to Rome and the letter was “quite moving,” Verger said.
He said it’s possible that the woman had been inspired by a Canadian tourist who last month returned artifacts stolen from the ancient site of Pompeii claiming they were “bad luck.”
“Who knows, Maybe she did hear about the Canadian woman,” Verger told local media. “The year 2020, decimated by the [COVID-19] pandemic, has made people reflect, as well as moved the conscience. The fact is that three years after the theft, she returned it — it’s a very important symbolic gesture.”