American Tourist Returns Stolen Ancient Roman Artifact in Mail With Remorseful Note

"Please forgive me for being such an American a--hole," the note said.

There’s always time to put right what once went wrong, including things regarding your travel souvenirs.

According to Insider, The National Roman Museum received a unique package from an American tourist. Inside the package was a rock with a short message scribbled on the bottom, in pen, along with a letter expressing the sender’s regrets of having taken the tiny item.

The rock, however, was not a regular rock. It was actually a piece of marble from ancient Roman ruins.

The accompanying letter asked the museum for forgiveness. The tourist, a person from Atlanta, wrote, “Please forgive me for being such an American a--hole. I took something that was not mine to take,” according to Insider.

Temple of Saturn at Roman Forum
ART on FILE, Inc./Getty

The sender also said they felt shame for also writing on the piece of marble. “I spent hours trying to remove the writing, but without success,” they wrote. The message on the bottom of the rock reads “To Sam. Love Jess. Rome, 2017.”

The museum’s director, Stéphane Verger, told Italian news outlet Il Messagero that this spontaneous act of remorse may have been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Insider reported.

“It is a spontaneous gesture, but the fruit of conscious reflection,” Verger said. “Maybe being cooped up by the coronavirus pandemic made her reflect a bit and jogged her conscience.”

Verger also added that the gesture could have also been inspired by a similar instance of taking “unauthorized” souvenirs, this one involving two Canadian tourists who claim that stealing an artifact from the ruins of Pompeii caused a slew of bad luck in their family, according to Insider. Perhaps the American tourist was returning the piece of marble to the museum as a way to avoid the same fate. Or, perhaps they’ve just grown as a person and wanted to do the right thing.

Curse or no curse, it’s just good that the marble is back in its rightful place and the person simply learned their lesson. Next time, they’ll probably just stop at the gift shop.

Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.

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