Italy landmarks turn off lights to protest surge in energy bills

Italian monuments will be plunged into darkness to highlight soaring energy bills.

More than 8,000 towns and cities across Italy will switch off the lights of their monuments on Thursday night in protest over a massive rise in energy prices.

The symbolic blackout at 20.00 has been organised by the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) which estimates that bills will increase by around €550 million for local councils, out of "a total annual electricity expenditure that fluctuates between €1.6 and €1.8 billion."

"We have chosen to turn off monuments and symbolic public buildings for a few minutes, to attract the government's attention” – ANCI president Antonio Decaro told state broadcaster RAI News 24 - “It is a problem that affects everyone, from companies, to families up to local authorities. An estimated increase of 30 per cent would not allow us to close our budgets and we could be forced to cut essential services, starting with public lighting which also plays a fundamental role in terms of urban safety."

The mayor of Rome and former Italian finance minister Roberto Gualtieri “fully agrees” with the initiative and will switch off the lights of the Campidoglio city hall this evening.

In a statement Gualtieri said the increase in bills “puts families and institutions in serious difficulty... especially in this historic moment that already sees us in trouble due to the pandemic. It is a problem that must be addressed and I am sure that the government will listen to the cry of alarm from citizens and mayors.”

The move will see the lights go off on some of the country's most noted buildings and monuments including Palazzo Marino and Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the Mole Antonelliana in Turin and the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna.

The protest comes the day after Italian premier Mario Draghi announced that the government is preparing a multi-billion package of measures to reduce the impact of surging energy prices.

Photo RomaToday