A tourist who stole ancient objects from the archeological site of Pompeii in southern Italy has returned them saying they “bring bad luck”.
The Canadian woman, identified as Nicole, purloined the fragments 15 years ago when she was in her early 20s. However, she blames the theft for a spate of unfortunate events, including serious health issues and financial difficulties.
Nicole returned the two mosaic tiles, ceramic fragments and pieces of an amphora to the ancient city via a travel agent in Pompeii. Along with the package, she attached a letter of confession expressing regret for her actions.
“I was young and stupid,” she wrote in the letter, “I wanted to have a piece of history that nobody could have.”
After 15 years of misfortune, however, Nicole decided the “cursed” pilfered artefacts were responsible. They had “so much negative energy”, she said in her letter, “linked to that land of destruction.”
The ancient city of Pompeii was buried in volcanic ash after the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The city was rediscovered in the 16th century and excavations have been ongoing since. It is now one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, but this accolade comes with frequent problems of visitors acting disrespectfully, even to the point of pocketing illegal “souvenirs”.
Nicole apologized for her actions in her letter, saying she was seeking “forgiveness from God”. She also hopes to rid herself of the bad luck the stolen artefacts have apparently brought her. “I am now 36 and had breast cancer twice,” she wrote. “The last time ending in a double mastectomy. My family and I also had financial problems. We’re good people and I don’t want to pass this curse on to my family or children.”
The surprise parcel to the Pompeii travel agents also contained some stones taken by another Canadian couple in 2005 and an accompanying apology letter.
“We took [the stones] without thinking of the pain and suffering these poor souls experienced during the eruption of Vesuvius and their terrible death,” they wrote. “We are sorry, please forgive us for making this terrible choice. May their souls rest in peace.”
For Pompeii’s park officials, the returned objects came as less of a surprise. Due to the volume of artefacts sent back, often with accompanying confessional letters, there is now a dedicated museum at the archeological site.