The Pantheon in Rome. Arthur Davis

A woman has been arrested after severely damaging two ancient candelabra in Rome's Pantheon.

One of the three-metre high 18th century candelabra had its arms completely broken off, while another was also damaged.

Cristina Conachi, 39, reportedly entered the Pantheon and repeatedly hit one of the ornaments, breaking pieces from it, and pushed another over when unable to break it.

Security guards intervened and detained Conachi until police arrived. She has been charged with aggravated damage to objects of cultural significance.

Conachi refused to give an address and was quoted by police as saying only "I don't know why I did it."

She was due to appear in court on Monday.

Italian authorities are currently considering tough new punishments to deter vandals targeting cultural monuments.

Earlier in the year Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called for a review of sentencing, after several incidents of people stealing chunks of the Colosseum as souvenirs, or of carving their names into it. In November a statue of an elephant by Bernini in Piazza Minerva behind the Pantheon was vandalized.

Franchescini's proposed measures introduced a specific offence for defacing or damaging cultural heritage or landscapes, and raised the top sentence from one to five years.