Climate activists turn landmark Rome fountain black

Climate activists in Italy turned a Baroque-style fountain at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps black on Saturday, in a protest they said evoked an "end of the world" scenario.

Climate activists turned the fountain below Rome's Spanish Steps black
Climate activists turned the fountain at the foot of Rome's Spanish Steps black on Saturday in a protest they said evoked an "end of the world" scenario. Photo: Last Generation/Ultima Generazione

Three activists from the Italian anti-climate change organisation Last Generation (Ultima Generazione) poured a vegetable-based carbon liquid into the landmark 17th-century fountain, known to Romans as La Barcaccia, before being escorted away by police.

The fountain, in the shape of a boat, was designed by famed Italian sculptor Pietro Bernini.

Popular tradition has it he was inspired by the discovery in 1598 of a boat in the square after it was washed inland by a flooding Tiber river, Last Generation said.

READ MORE: Italian climate activists face trial for throwing paint at Senate

Turning the water black “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,” it said in a statement.

Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election, urging politicians from all parties to make climate change their priority.

Cleaning services clean the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza Duomo

Cleaning services clean the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II on March 9, 2023 in Milan, after it was smeared with washable paint by Last Generation to raise awareness on climate change. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

The protests in Italy are part of a series of actions across Europe to focus attention on climate change.

Activists have thrown soup, cake, mashed potatoes or washable paint at heritage and culture sites and artworks in museums.

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‘Exceptionally hot’ summer temperatures predicted for Italy

The latest medium-range forecasts predict temperatures several degrees above seasonal average again this summer with a series of heatwaves and an elevated risk of drought, warned Italian meteorologists on Monday.

'Exceptionally hot' summer temperatures predicted for Italy

“Data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) suggests that July and August could be exceptionally hot in the Mediterranean,” climate scientist Luca Mercalli, president of the Società meteorologica italiana (Italian meteorological society) told news agency Adnkronos on Friday.

“There’s no big news from now to June 20-25th,” Mercalli says. “Storms continue in the north and it remains hot in the south.”

From July however, he predicts the beginning of “a decidedly hot phase across the whole Mediterranean.

“We should therefore have a July and also August with temperatures above average.”

The first heatwave of the summer was expected at the end of the week, with temperatures of up to 39-40 degrees forecast for Rome, Florence, and Naples, and potentially even higher temperatures in Sicily and Sardinia.

Temperatures at the start of the week were already 10 degrees above seasonal averages on Monday, said Antonio Sanò, meteorologist and founder of Italian weather website

Mercalli cautioned that, while short-term forecasts (up to 10 days) are generally reliable, longer-range predictions come with higher uncertainty.

However, the data available so far indicates a warmer-than-average summer across Europe.

The latest updates from predict temperatures at the end of June will be about 1°C above the average in most parts of Europe. This trend is expected to continue into July and August.

Temperatures in Italy, Spain, and the Balkans will potentially be 2°C above average over summer due to the increasing influence of African anticyclones, according to forecasters from IlMeteo.

Previously, the milder Azores wave of high pressure was more dominant, IlMeteo explains, but in recent years warm air fronts from North Africa have caused more intense and prolonged heatwaves.

This was expected to lead to prolonged heatwaves with maximum temperatures exceeding 40°C in many areas.

Last summer saw record temperatures of 43°C in Rome and up to 48°C in Sicily and Sardinia. Similar conditions are expected this year, reflecting ongoing climate change.

Along with heatwaves, there is an increased risk of drought in southern regions following a dry winter and spring, IlMeteo notes.

Meanwhile, particularly in northern parts of the country, severe storms are thought increasingly likely to break the intense heatwaves due to the arrival of cooler air from Northern Europe or the Atlantic.