Climate eco-anarchists in Rome turned the Trevi Fountain water black on Sunday after pouring diluted charcoal into the pool during a staged protest against public funding for fossil fuels they claim caused a recent flood that killed 14 people in northeastern Italy.
Protestors from the “Ultima Generazione” — translated as the “Last Generation” — climbed into the 18th-century fountain on Sunday morning with several banners that denounced paying for fossil fuels and mixed the carbonaceous material into the water as they shouted, “Our country is dying.”
— Agenzia VISTA (@AgenziaVISTA) May 21, 2023
Protesters linked themselves to the “LET’S NOT PAY FOR FOSSIL” campaign, the group’s website states, which asks the Italian government to stop public subsidies to all fossil fuels immediately. The group believes such energy sources caused a recent deadly flood in Emilia Romagna and the Marches, devastating their territory, claiming 14 lives, forcing 10,000 people to abandon their homes, and leaving over 30,000 residents without electricity.
“1 out of 4 houses in Italy is vulnerable to floods,” the group tweeted. “How much longer do we have to wait for those in government to take concrete action?”
⚫️Carbone vegetale nell'acqua della Fontana di Trevi 🚰
1 casa su 4 in Italia è vulnerabile alle alluvioni.
Quanto dobbiamo ancora aspettare perché chi è al governo intervenga concretamente? pic.twitter.com/Au9fniQYrN
— Ultima Generazione (@UltimaGenerazi1) May 21, 2023
Within minutes of the climate activists’ demonstration, local authorities intervened and dragged them out of the fountain while hundreds of people visiting the landmark watched.
Located at the Piazza di Trevi square, the “Fontana di Trevi” is known the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and has become one of the most famous monuments around the world. The landmark was initially designed by Italian sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Clemens XII. However, according to Britannica, Italian architect Nicola Salvi redesigned the fountain and began some 30 years of construction on the site until it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.
Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri applauded Rome Capital Police authorities in a Facebook post for stopping the activists and likely avoiding any permanent damage to the fountain’s porous marble.
Gualtieri said the “indifferent environmental damage” caused by activists has prompted the fountain to undergo a complex and costly cleaning operation that could result in waste of 300,000 liters of water to empty and refill the pool again, which functions to recycle water.
“I reiterate, that this is not the right way to conduct a battle for the environment and against climate change,” he said.
“Such gestures are completely wrong and damaging, because they risk damaging precious common goods such as our monuments, and force public administrations into very expensive and environmentally impactful restoration interventions,” Gualtieri added. “So they are completely counterproductive, and they also risk reducing the consent in public opinion regarding the right battle for the environment and climate.”
Gualtieri called on the climate protestors to stop such “absurd” attacks on the nation’s artistic heritage in a tweet, after a series of acts targeting works of art in Italy have recently occurred. The Daily Mail reported activists had thrown soup, cake, mashed potatoes, or washable paint at artistic and monumental heritage sites.
According to the news outlet, Last Generation began protesting in Italy last year before the general election, demanding lawmakers make climate change their priority.