An anti-climate change protest in which a group of activists poured diluted charcoal to turn the water of Rome’s Trevi Fountain black drew a sharp rebuke from the Italian city’s mayor, who is calling for an end to the actions.
Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri spoke after a video showed uniformed police diving into the waters of the popular tourist attraction to remove activists belonging to a group called ‘Ultima Generazione’ – the last generation – according to Reuters.
“Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. Today the #FontanadiTrevi is smeared,” Gualtieri wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Expensive and complex to restore, hoping that there is no permanent damage. I invite activists to compete on a confrontational terrain without putting the monuments at risk”.
Protesters with the group, after entering the waters of the Trevi Fountain, raised banners saying: “We will not pay for fossil fuels” and shouted: “Our country is dying!” Reuters reported.
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Photos showed parts of the fountain water turning black. Seven climate activists reportedly attended the protest.
In a statement, Reuters cited Ultima Generazione as pushing for an end to public subsidies for fossil fuels, while also calling attention to recent flooding in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, which left 14 dead.
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Gualtieri, quoted by Euronews, said that cleaning the fountain “will cost time, effort and water, because this is a fountain that uses recirculated water”.
“Now we have to empty it and throw away 300,000 liters of water,” he said.
In the recent flood, the coastal region of Emilia-Romagna was hit twice, firstly by heavy rain two weeks ago on arid and drought ground that could not absorb it, causing rivers to overflow during the night, followed by deluge last week which killed 14 people and caused damage estimated at billions of euros.
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The region’s location between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic Sea trapped the weather system last week which dumped half the annual average amount of rain in 36 hours. Authorities said on Friday that 43 cities were affected by floods and landslides and more than 500 roads were closed or destroyed.
“These are events that have developed with persistence and are classified as rare,” Fabrizio Curcio, head of Italy’s Civil Protection, told the media.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.