A climate change protest in which a group of activists poured diluted charcoal to turn the water of Rome’s Trevi Fountain black has drawn a sharp rebuke from the Italian city’s mayor, who is calling for an end to such actions.
Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri is speaking out after video showed uniformed police wading 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 smeared the #FontanadiTrevi,” Gualtieri wrote on Twitter 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, held up banners saying, “We won’t pay for fossil (fuels)” and yelled, “Our country is dying!” Reuters reported.
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Photos showed parts of the fountain’s water turning black. Seven climate activists reportedly participated in the protest.
In a statement, Reuters cited Ultima Generazione as pushing for an end to public subsidies for fossil fuels while also drawing awareness to recent flooding in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, which left 14 dead.
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Gualtieri was quoted by Euronews as saying that the fountain cleanup will “cost time, effort and water, because this is a fountain which uses recirculating water”.
“We now have to empty it, and throw away 300,000 liters of water,” he reportedly said.
In the recent flooding, the coastal region of Emilia-Romagna was struck twice, first by heavy rain two weeks ago on drought-parched ground that could not absorb it, causing rivers to overflow overnight, followed by last week’s deluge that killed 14 and caused damages estimated in the 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 that dumped half the average annual amount of rain in 36 hours. Authorities on Friday said 43 towns were impacted by flooding and landslides, and that more than 500 roads had been closed or destroyed.
“These are events that developed with persistence and are classified as rare,” Fabrizio Curcio, the leader of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, told the media.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.