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Italy set to make 'vandal' climate activists pay for restoration work

Italian culture minister says enough is enough.

Italy's government is studying a law to make those who damage cultural landmarks pick up the bill for the work required to restore the monuments they deface, the Italian culture minister said.

Gennaro Sangiuliano was speaking after climate activists from the Ultima Generazione group poured black liquid into the waters of the 17th-century Barcaccia fountain at the Spanish Steps in Rome on Saturday.

“Those who damage our cultural heritage cannot get away with it and must be punished severely", Sangiuliano said in a statement, noting that the works required to restore damaged monuments are "often expensive because they require specialists and appropriate equipment."

Sangiuliano described the Barcaccia stunt, the latest in a series of similar incidents by climate activists in Italy, as "the straw that broke the camel's back".

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri said the blitz at the landmark fountain was "stupid" and had "nothing to do with fighting climate change or protecting the environment".

Gualtieri confirmed that "permanent damage was avoided" to the Baroque monument but "only thanks" to a prompt and complex cleaning process.

Vittorio Sgarbi, the Italian culture undersecretary known for his outspoken views, said that activists who target cultural landmarks "should be locked up in places of psychological recovery with compulsory medical treatment".

In a statement, Ultima Generazione said the action at the Barcaccia "foreshadowed the 'end of the world' scenario we are heading for", with a combination of drought, floods and heat waves set to "put an end to life on Earth".

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