Workers renovating a Naples flat accidentally drilled a hole into a 16th century fresco decorating the chapel of a neighbouring church. Attendees of a graduation ceremony that was being held inside the San Giovanni Maggiore Basilica were surprised when, after hearing loud noises coming from the adjacent building, they saw a drill bit perforating the wall.
The mishap left a large hole in the middle of an artwork by local artist Tomasso Assan Paleologo depicting the Virgin Mary with Saint Peter, missing the latter's face by a few inches. "While carrying out renovation works, two labourers pierced a wall with a drill or bore, damaging it and the fresco," police told IBTimes UK.
Luigi Vinci, the head of Naples engineers association, which has license to use the premises, described the artwork as a piece of "great value" that attracted tourists from abroad. It is believed to have been painted between 1522 and 1533.
"I am speechless," Vinci told Il Mattino newspaper. Police have identified the workers that left the area shortly after the accident. They are facing charges of damaging artistic heritage, along with the flat's owner, and the renovation company the pair worked for.