Every year Rome city authorities are cleaning 4.25 million sqm of city walls, in a campaign costing 2.5 million per annum. And these figures exclude efforts to remove graffiti from monuments and those of a racist nature. The ongoing battle now includes over 2,100 video cameras, with a view to catching the city's graffiti "artists" red handed.

As with Berlin using helicopters to intercept offenders, Turin providing dedicated spaces throughout the city, and Varese offering rewards to informants, Rome appears to have gone for the more static option. But appearances can be deceptive, as Luca Odevaine, deputy head of Rome's mayor's office, explains: "Over the last few days we have installed a number of video cameras in the Vatican

area. With this new system we can now turn the device to obtain a better picture of what is actually happening." Mr Odevaine added that the aim was to "transform video-surveillance into a deterrent against those who continue to deface our buildings with spray paint".