A group of climate activists in Italy have poured what they described as “a charcoal-based black liquid” into the water of Rome’s famous Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) – to “sound the alarm about the black future that awaits humanity.”
“Our future is as black as this water,” the group called Ultima Generazione, or Last Generation, said on their website.
“Without water, there is no life and with rising temperatures, we are exposed to drought on the one hand and floods on the other,” they added.
“Difficult years await us but if we don’t reach zero emissions immediately they will be terrible.”
Photos showed activists, wearing orange vests, standing waist deep in the fountain. They unfolded orange banners bearing the words in Italian: “Our future is as black as this water” as crowds of onlookers snapped pictures.
It is believed to be the same group of climate activists that led protests at other Italian historical sites including the Barcaccia fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps in central Rome, where they poured black liquid into the fountain on April 1.
Similar protests saw activists glue themselves to Italian art masterpieces in locations like the Vatican museums and Uffizi galleries in Florence.
“It is absurd that this gesture should shock you when we are experiencing a drought emergency that is putting agriculture, energy production in crisis,” the group said of its protest then.
Members of the group were arrested by police and are facing charges of defacing a public monument.
Located in the famed Piazza Navona square in Rome, the Fiumi Fountain was designed by Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651.
Italy’s Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano condemned the activists’ protest and said those responsible must “pay out of their own pockets.”
“We have to record yet another defacement that endangers the beauty of one of our nation’s iconic works of art,” Sangiuliano said.
“As I have explained many times, these are acts against the environment which they claim to want to defend because the notion of landscape includes what beautiful things over centuries of history human genius has produced,” he added.
“Experts talk about anthropization of the environment. Now again, a lot of water will have to be used to clean up and costs incurred to restore the state of the monument – and (paying for it) will be Italian citizens.”
Describing the group as “eco-vandals,” Sangiuliano said: “I hope Parliament will approve new regulations against them as soon as possible.”