A teenage tourist is under investigation after she was filmed defacing Rome’s Colosseum by a tour guide who said her parents told him: ‘She’s just a little girl’

The Colosseum on a summer's day, where tourists are increasingly committing acts of vandalism on the historic World Heritage monument on June 27, 2023 in Rome, Italy.

The Colosseum on a summer’s day, where tourists are increasingly committing acts of vandalism on the historic World Heritage monument.Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  • A Swiss teenager is under investigation for defacing the Colosseum, Italian media outlets report.

  • The 17-year-old was filmed carving the letter “N” into the ancient structure by a local tour guide.

  • The guide, David Battaglino, told local media the teen’s parents said: “She’s just a little girl.”

Less than a month after a tourist sparked outrage for defacing the Colosseum by carving his and his girlfriend’s initials into the ancient building, a teenage visitor is under investigation for the very same act.

The young tourist from Switzerland found herself at the center of a probe launched by Italian police after she was caught on camera carving the letter “N” into a wall on the nearly 2,000-year-old Roman structure, according to Swiss Info. The news was first reported by local media outlet ADN Kronos.

The tourist has not been identified by name but a clip of the incident was shared by Italian news agency ANSA on Twitter.

The video appears to show the blonde teenager, whose face has been blurred, using an object to carve into the historic structure’s brick-faced concrete. When she finishes, a series of clapping is heard.

Twitter’s translation of ANSA’s tweet read: “New disfigurement at the Colosseum, a Swiss tourist engraves her initials: she risks prison and a maximum fine. She was filmed by a guide and reported.”

Local tour guide David Battaglino filmed the teenager carrying out the act and told local Italian newspaper La Republica that he was in the process of showing a group around the Colosseum when someone directed his attention to the teenager.

He kept talking to his tour group, but said he simultaneously started filming the teenager defacing the Colosseum with his phone.

“After a few seconds my group applauded me. To her, in English, I said, ‘Do you want applause?’ The young girl understood that she had ended up in the crosshairs of those who protect art and turned away to go toward her family,” he said.

Several carvings of names and words on a brick wall of the Colosseum.

Carvings on the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Battaglino said that when he told the teenager’s parents that what she had done was illegal and reported them to a supervisor, their reaction was: “She’s just a little girl, she wasn’t doing anything wrong,” according to La Republica.

The outlet reported the teen and her parents were subseqeuntly taken to police headquarters in Rome’s Piazza Venezia. The Polizia di Stato and Italy’s Ministry of Culture did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Though it was the first time the tour guide said he’s caught an act of vandalism at the Colosseum on camera, he said he’s seen it before and has even been “spat at” in a previous incident involving a boy carrying out a similar act.

The outcome of this latest investigation is still unclear, but it does bear similarities to the viral story of the 27-year-old British fitness instructor who was seen using a key to carve “Ivan+Haley 23” into the nearly 2,000-year-old Roman structure in a video originally shared to YouTube.

At the time, ANSA reported Dimitrov could face up to $16,000 in fines and five years in prison.

He later wrote an apology letter to Rome’s mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, and the prosecutor’s office, which was shared in Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper on July 5. In it, he said he wasn’t aware of the ancient monument’s age or the “seriousness of the deed committed.”

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