Rome's Trevi fountain runs black after climate protest

Italy's north is dealing with flooding which recently killed 14 people

Climate activists from the group Last Generation threw a black liquid into the Trevi fountain.  EPA
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Climate activists in Italy released black liquid into Rome's famous Trevi Fountain black on Sunday, days after 14 people died during severe flooding in the country's north-east.

Activists from the anti-climate change organisation Last Generation said the devastating floods were “a warning” as they climbed into the fountain and poured a vegetable-based carbon liquid into it, before being escorted away by police.

Following other direct action groups like Extinction Rebellion, Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election, urging politicians from all parties to make climate change their priority.

The city's mayor told Italy's official news agency Ansa that there should be no permanent damage to the fountain because the liquid settled on its waterproof membrane.

“The risk is when it goes on the marble, which is porous,” Roberto Gualtieri said.

The Trevi fountain featured in Federico Fellini's film “La Dolce Vita”, when Swedish actress Anita Ekberg went for a dip it. Every year, thousands of tourists throw coins into the 18th century, Nicola Salvi-designed monument for luck.

More than €1 million ($1.08 million) is collected by municipal workers and handed to Rome’s Catholic charity Caritas each year.

Sunday's protest came as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Emilia Romagna to visit areas devastated by floods described as the worst in a century, after six months worth of rain fell in 36 hours.

More than 36,000 citizens have been displaced by the disaster.

Climate activist Mattia, 19, who did not give his last name, said he took part “because the horrible tragedy experienced in these days in Emilia Romagna is a forewarning of the black future that awaits mankind”.

The protests in Italy are part of a series of actions across Europe to focus attention on climate change.

Activists have thrown soup, cake, mashed potatoes or washable paint at heritage and culture sites and artworks in museums.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: May 21, 2023, 2:02 PM

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