Rome’s historic Trevi Fountain turned black on Sunday as climate activists from the organization Last Generation poured a vegetable-based carbon liquid into the water. The action aimed to raise awareness about the devastating floods that recently hit Italy’s north-east, claiming the lives of 14 people.
Members of Last Generation climbed into the famous fountain, following the footsteps of other direct action groups like Extinction Rebellion, to peacefully disrupt and draw attention to the urgent need for climate change action. They highlighted the floods as a stark warning of the consequences of inaction on climate change. Police intervened and escorted the activists away from the scene.
Responding to the incident, Rome’s mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, reassured the public that the fountain’s waterproof membrane would prevent any permanent damage, as the black liquid settled on its surface. Gualtieri emphasized that the real risk lies in porous marble, which was unaffected.
The Trevi Fountain, known worldwide for its appearance in Federico Fellini’s film “La Dolce Vita,” attracts thousands of tourists each year who toss coins into its waters for luck. The tradition generates over €1 million ($1.08 million), which is donated to Rome’s Catholic charity Caritas annually.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited the flood-stricken areas of Emilia Romagna, where the devastating floods were described as the worst in a century. The region experienced six months’ worth of rain in just 36 hours, resulting in the displacement of more than 36,000 citizens.
One of the participating activists, 19-year-old Mattia, expressed his motivation for taking part, stating, “The horrible tragedy experienced in these days in Emilia Romagna is a forewarning of the black future that awaits mankind.” These protests in Italy are part of a broader series of actions across Europe that seek to draw attention to the pressing issue of climate change.
In recent months, activists have resorted to unconventional methods to highlight the urgency of addressing climate change, including throwing soup, cake, mashed potatoes, or washable paint at heritage sites, cultural landmarks, and artworks displayed in museums.
As concerns about climate change continue to grow, these acts of protest serve as a reminder of the need for immediate action to safeguard our planet and future generations.