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August 11, 2016

Standing in suffocating lines in the August heat, many tourists have dreamed of a world in which they could explore museums and monuments without the crushing summer crowds. One American tourist accidentally found himself in just that situation when he was overlooked by security and locked in the Duomo cathedral in Milan this week while using the bathroom.

The 23-year-old from Illinois, who has not yet been named by Italian authorities, shouted to security that he was still in the bathroom at closing time but was not heard. When he discovered he was locked inside, he spent the night among the cathedral’s rooftop spires, saying he didn’t want to call police for fear it would cause undue alarm.

Veneranda Fabbrica, a private security firm that has been responsible for the upkeep and protection of the Duomo since it was built more than 600 years ago, has stepped up security in response to the incident. Police and armed guards screen visitors to the Gothic cathedral, and those wishing to visit the roof must pass through a metal detector.

The firm also noted that the decision to ask for additional help from Milan police forces took into account recent threats on Christian monuments from the terror organization known as the Islamic State group or ISIS, particularly following the murder of a Catholic priest in Normandy, France by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS.

Veneranda Fabbrica said in a statement that it had requested the additional security “not only in light of the facts that have touched France, hitting for the first time a sign of Christianity in Europe.”

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