‘Do you want a clap?’: tour guide who filmed tourist defacing Colosseum reveals how he caught vandal


The Italian tour guide who shot footage of an unidentified girl inscribing the letter “N” on the wall of the Colosseum tells The Art Newspaper that he was shocked by the incident and how the girl’s family reacted. David Battaglino, an experienced Rome guide, made the video showing the act of vandalism, which was posted by the Italian news agency Ansa.

Battaglino said he was showing a group around the ancient Rome landmark when he saw the incident. He tells The Art Newspaper: “After a few seconds, the group applauded the girl and I asked her in English, ‘Do you want a clap?’ The young girl at first thought the applause was in admiration, but quickly realised we were being sarcastic and rejoined her family who were a few feet away, watching in amusement.”

He adds: “At that point I took some photos of the whole family, as I wanted to have some evidence of the girl’s boyfriend as well, who, I was told by my group, had written his name (Luca) just before the girl, which you can see on the video.”

Battaglino said he then approached the girl and her parents, asking them “Do you know that what your daughter has just done is illegal and carries a fine of up to €15,000 and up to five years imprisonment?”

He returned to his tour group, who had watched the entire scene and heard the encounter through his microphone. “We were more shocked by the family’s reaction, than the stupidity of the [girl]. I explained to my group that I was going to continue with my tour, but that we would wait and follow the family so that I could point them out to one of the security staff of the Colosseum.”

Battaglino says he followed the family in question with his group. “When I saw a member of security, I quickly approached him, showed him the video and pointed out the family.”

At that point, the security guard approached the family and asked for their identification documents. “At first the parents refused, justifying their [daughter’s actions] by saying that ‘she is just a little girl’. I told the father, that the ‘little girl’ is his responsibility. I then left them with the security guard and thanked my group for their patience and continued my tour.As far as I know, they were then picked up by the police who took them to the station to identify them and initiate legal proceedings.”The Italian culture ministry did not respond to a request for comment about the incident.

Meanwhile, according to the ANSA press agency the public prosecutor in Rome is about to indict the UK-based tourist, named as Ivan Dimitrov, who was filmed scratching his name on a wall at the Colosseum last month.

In a statement posted last month, the Italian culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, said: “I hope that justice will take its course by rigorously applying the law. If it comes to a trial, the Ministry of Culture will appear as a civil party.”


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