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'

  • 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 that her parents told him: "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 a similar act of vandalism.

The young tourist from Switzerland found herself at the center of a probe launched by the 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 the Italian media outlet ADN Kronos.

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

The video appeared to show a blonde teenager, whose face was blurred, using an object to carve the letter "N" into the historic structure's brick-faced concrete before turning away when people started clapping.

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."

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

He told the outlet that he kept talking to his tour group while simultaneously 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.

A wall of the Colosseum where several names and words have been etched into bricks in the wall.
Carvings on the Colosseum in Rome.FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Battaglino told the teenager's parents that what she had done was illegal, reported them to a supervisor, and recalled her parents telling him: "She's just a little girl, she wasn't doing anything wrong," according to La Republica.

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

Battaglino said that it was the first time he had caught an act of vandalism at the Colosseum on camera but added that he had also seen similar acts before and was once "spat at" in a previous incident involving a boy.

The outcome of this latest investigation is still unclear, but it bears similarities with 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 that the British tourist 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. He said in the letter that he wasn't aware of the ancient monument's age or the "seriousness of the deed committed."

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