The Eternal City of Rome has many tourist sites, and the Trevi Fountain is among the most celebrated. On Sunday, climate change activists dumped diluted charcoal into the fountain, inspiring outrage both in person and on social media.

The activists are part of an organization called Ultima Generazione, or Last Generation. They held up banners that said, “Our country is dying” and “Let’s not pay for fossil campaigns considering what is happening in Emilia Romagna.”

There was severe flooding in northern Italy earlier this month, which killed at least 14 people. Experts say that the climate crisis, exacerbated by human actions, is the culprit.

Ultima Generazione has dumped charcoal into Rome’s fountains three times so far. The first time involved the Barcaccia Fountain, and the second targeted the Fountain of The Four Rivers.

While all these fountains are beautiful in their own right, the Trevi Fountain is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. Completed in 1762, it attracts millions of tourists per year.

Italian Authorities Condemned the Activists

If there’s one thing many Italians take seriously, it’s the preservation of their art and culture. This explains the condemnation of this event by local authorities.

The police in Rome arrested the activists who will face vandalism charges.

Roberto Gualtieri, the mayor of Rome, took to Twitter after the incident. He wrote, “Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. 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.”

Luisa Regimenti, councilor for personnel, urban security, local police and local authorities in the Lazio region, expressed a similar sentiment. She called the climate change activists “eco vandals” and their actions an “irresponsible blitz.”

Repairs Will Be Extensive and Expensive

Restoring the Trevi Fountain won’t be an easy process.

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

Moreover, CNN notes, “The 66,000-gallon fountain would have to be emptied, and the dyed water would have to be thrown away.”

Ultima Generazione stood firm, believing their actions were justified.

They wrote on Twitter, “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?”