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British free-runner destroys part of ancient Italian city

Another wrong'un larking about!
Another wrong'un larking about! Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Jonny Walfisz
Published on
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It's the latest stunt-gone-wrong by the parkour group banned from Venice.

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A British parkour group who have been banned from Venice have now been accused of damaging a UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Italy.

Team Phat is a nine-person parkour sports team from London that posts viral videos of its members leaping around public buildings and monuments. One of its members, 23-year-old Devon McIntosh, has been filmed jumping from a roof in Matera, breaking part of the building.

Matera is an ancient city in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, which can trace its human history back 10,000 years. The cave-dwelling city has an urban core cut into the mountain rock, known as the Sassi di Matera.

The ancient city of Matera
The ancient city of MateraCanva

Matera’s unique Sassi buildings are considered one of the most unique ancient architectural sites in Europe and were put on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1993.

McIntosh has been filmed shattering part of one of the preserved buildings in this historic site after he failed to land a jump. When the free-runner went to jump from a roof to the ledge of another house, the roof slab broke and sent him tumbling. Thankfully McIntosh was only minorly injured.

“I am Italian and have been practising parkour for almost 8 years,” someone on Instagram commented. “Even if the spots are crazy Matera should not be used as a parkour park, that stone could have been there before the discovery of America or even earlier. This city is a UNESCO heritage site for a reason. We should enjoy our discipline as much as possible, but we should also watch where we step, not only for safety but also for respect of culture and history.”

Others have commented on the video posted to the Team Phat Instagram page: “I love you guys and you're such an inspiration to me, but I think that's why a lot of older people hate us; destroying stuff just for fun is such a selfish thing and this little town looks so nice. Was this really necessary?”

Over on McIntosh’s own Instagram page, a video of his other exploits in Matera has been received positively, with one poster writing that it’s “so cool to see people jumping there again🤩”.

Team Phat member Klaus Guip has said the reason they chose Matera: “We’ve been banned from Venice, so we can never go back.”

The parkour collective caused a city-wide manhunt after they posted a video of a stunt in Venice in 2023. One member was filmed jumping from a building into the canals, after which the mayor Luigi Brugnaro called him a “delinquent” who “risked his life”.

“They don’t understand the danger they create in this city. What if a boat would have been passing below?” the mayor continued.

Brugnaro ordered police in Venice to scour the city and bring the free-runner to justice before banning them from returning.

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