School tour pupils trash city’s his­toric mon­u­ment

Western Mail - - NEWS - DEBORA ARU & ANNA LEWIS Re­porters news­desk@waleson­

Pupils from a re­spected Welsh high school have trashed a his­toric 16th Cen­tury mon­u­ment on a trip abroad.

Whitchurch High School in Cardiff could be forced to pay dam­ages af­ter young­sters left a re­li­gious mar­ble or­na­ment in pieces dur­ing a trip to Florence.

On Fri­day, June 22, the base of an or­na­men­tal cab­i­net known as the taber­na­cle of Canto alla Paglia was found shat­tered me­tres away from the city’s fa­mous cathe­dral.

A 15-year-old pupil was ques­tioned by po­lice for dam­ag­ing pub­lic prop­erty be­fore be­ing re­leased at 2.45am.

Another pupil was taken to hos­pi­tal, where he was treated for mi­nor in­juries af­ter be­ing hit by the de­bris.

Ac­cord­ing to Ital­ian web­site La Nazione, a group of the Cardiff pupils had been play­ing with an LED parachute when it be­came stuck on the mon­u­ment on Pi­azza San Gio­vanni.

It is be­lieved one pupil then climbed on the shoul­ders of another to reach the ob­ject when the ledge gave way.

Ac­cord­ing to Ital­ian news re­ports, the mar­ble taber­na­cle con­tains a pic­ture of the Madonna and child from the late 16th cen­tury.

It has in­fu­ri­ated many in the worl­drenowned Ital­ian city with one blog­ger calling for the cul­prits to be banned from Italy for life.

Pic­tures from the scene show a cor­don around the bro­ken mon­u­ment sur­rounded by shocked passers-by.

The Re­nais­sance paint­ing in­side the re­cess ap­pears to be un­dam­aged.

The Ital­ian Polizia Mu­nic­i­pale con­firmed yes­ter­day that dam­age to the mon­u­ment had been caused by pupils from a Welsh school.

A source at Polizia Mu­nic­i­pale said the or­na­ment will now be as­sessed be­fore the case is brought be­fore a judge, where it will be de­cided whether the school will have to pay dam­ages.

The in­ci­dent took place dur­ing a five­day trip to Italy for Whitchurch High School’s de­sign and tech­nol­ogy de­part­ment.

Pic­tures from the school’s Twit­ter page show pupils en­joy­ing the city, where they vis­ited the Du­cati mo­tor­cy­cle fac­tory among other at­trac­tions.

Fol­low­ing the dam­age, the story has been re­ported by na­tional Ital­ian me­dia in­clud­ing news­pa­pers and web­site La Repub­blica.

Over the years the Cardiff high school has gained a rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional sport­ing stars in­clud­ing Gareth Bale, Sam War­bur­ton and Tour de France yel­low jersey owner Geraint Thomas.

A spokesman for the school said: “Whitchurch High School is ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed that the be­hav­iour of a very small num­ber of its stu­dents has not lived up to the high stan­dards ex­pected.

“An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is cur­rently un­der­way and we are speak­ing to the staff and stu­dents that went on the trip.” > Pieces of the taber­na­cle on the ground af­ter it col­lapsed. (Pic­tures sup­plied by La Nazionale news­pa­per)

> Teenagers from Whitchurch High School have come un­der fire af­ter leav­ing mar­ble a re­li­gious relic in pieces dur­ing a trip to Florence

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