Rome mayor slams blitz at landmark fountain.
Three climate activists linked to the Ultima Generazione group on Saturday poured black liquid into a Baroque fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Activists dyed the waters of the 17th-century Barcaccia fountain with a vegetable-based carbon liquid, in front of shocked onlookers, before being detained by police.
In a statement, Ultima Generazione said the action “foreshadows the ‘end of the world’ scenario we are heading for, as we increasingly step on the accelerator: drought alternating with devastating floods, which will put an end to life on Earth, along with heat waves.”
Climate activists dye the water black in the 17th-century Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome.pic.twitter.com/1nmfpxK4BJ— Nemo (@nemo.guide) April 1, 2023
Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and said technicians were carrying out work to prevent permanent damage to the boat-shaped monument sculpted by Pietro Bernini.
“Rome is at the forefront in the fight against climate change and in the protection of artistic heritage” – Gualtieri wrote on Twitter – “Throwing black liquid into the Barcaccia risking ruining it is an absolutely wrong action that does not help the environment.”
Condemning the action as “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano wrote on Twitter: “It’s time to say enough: we are faced with a systematic action of vandalism against the artistic and cultural heritage that has nothing to do with environmental protection.”
L’azione ai danni della Fontana della Barcaccia in Piazza di Spagna è la goccia che fa traboccare il vaso. È ora di dire basta: siamo davanti ad una sistematica azione di vandalismo ai danni del patrimonio artistico e culturale che non c’entra nulla con la tutela dell’ambiente pic.twitter.com/iU6j3pfTPT— Gennaro Sangiuliano (@g_sangiuliano) April 1, 2023
Brief history of La Barcaccia
The Barcaccia was commissioned by the Barberini Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644), allegedly inspired by the story of a boat washed up there by a flood of the Tiber in 1598.
The travertine fountain was built in 1626-29 and is accredited to Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gian Lorenzo who possibly contributed to the monument’s decoration along with stonemason Battista Bancozzi.
The Barcaccia was restored several times since the 18th century, most recently in 2014.
In 2015 the central part of the Baroque monument was damaged by rioting Feyenoord fans ahead of a Europa League with AS Roma.
Climate activists in Italy
The blitz at the Barcaccia was the latest in a string of actions by climate activists in Rome and Milan in recent months, from gluing their hands to art works to staging road blocks in rush hour traffic.
Earlier this month Florence mayor Dario Nardella intervened personally to stop activists as they sprayed paint over the facade of Palazzo Vecchio.
Climate activists recently made headlines for spraying paint on the Italian senate as well as covering Andy Warhol’s painted car in flour in Milan and throwing pea soup onto a Van Gogh masterpiece in Rome.
Last summer they made international news by gluing themselves to the protective glass in front of Botticell’s Primavera at the Uffizi in Florence.
Photo Gennaro Sangiuliano