Climate activists pour charcoal in Trevi Fountain, turning it black

(Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:09 PM – Monday, May 22, 2023

Climate change activists used charcoal diluted with vegetable oil to turn the normally bright blue water of Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain black on Sunday.


A group of about ten environmental activists from the organization Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) entered the 18th-century late-Baroque fountain while carrying a banner that read, “Let’s not pay for fossil campaigns considering what is happening in Emilia Romagna,” referring to the deadly floods in northern Italy that some experts have tried to categorize as a climate crisis.

“Charcoal in the water of the Trevi Fountain,” the group tweeted on Sunday. “1 out of 4 houses in Italy is vulnerable to floods. How much longer do we have to wait for those in government to take concrete action?”

“Our country is dying,” was written on another banner from the group.

According to Rome’s police force, all activists were detained and charged with vandalism.

In the Lazio area where Rome is located, Luisa Regimenti, councilor for personnel, urban security, local police and local authorities, condemned the unruly crime. She claimed in a written statement that it was the “umpteenth demonstrative act of eco-vandals” that had damaged “a symbol of Rome universally known in the world.”

Referring to the incident as an “irresponsible blitz,” Regimenti continued by saying that dying the fountain was “a serious gesture, a worrying escalation that must be stopped with a safety plan for the monuments and the works of art most at risk in Rome and Lazio.”

Roberto Gualtieri, the Mayor of Rome, tweeted: “Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. Today the #FontanadiTrevi was smeared. Expensive and complex to restore, hoping there is no permanent damage. I invite activists to compete on a confrontational terrain without putting the monuments at risk.”

He informed local reporters present at the site that the 300,000 liter (66,000 gallon) fountain would now have to be emptied, and the colored water would need to be dumped out.

“This will involve a significant intervention,” he said. “It will cost time, effort and water.”

Activists have poured charcoal-based liquids into the iconic fountains of Rome numerous times. They had targeted the Barcaccia fountain at the foot of the Spanish Steps in April, and the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona in May. The climate activist group has taken pride and ownership in each occurrence.

Following the flooding in northern Italy that resulted in at least 14 fatalities (previously reported as 13 before the last body was discovered,) more than 36,000 displaced local citizens, and 50,000 without electricity, many climate groups have condemned the Italian government for their lack of preparation in what they deemed as a climate change-caused disaster.

A Thursday press release issued by the Italian ecological group Legambiente said that the crisis “is affecting territories with increasingly intense extreme events, with risks to people’s lives, and impacts on the environment and the economy. And Italy once again proves unprepared.”

According to legend, anyone who drops a penny into the fountain will arrive back in Rome in the future. For the Catholic charity Caritas, about 1.1-1.6 million euros ($1.1-$1.6 million) in coins are collected annually. During peak tourist seasons, the fountain receives about 3,000 euros ($3,200) every day in donations, according to Rome’s tourism bureau.

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