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Italy set to crack down on 'eco-vandals' defacing monuments

Move follows spate of protests in Italy by climate activists.

The Italian government on Tuesday unveiled measures to crack down on those who damage or deface monuments and heritage sites, proposing fines of up to €60,000.

The move comes amid a series of attacks on cultural landmarks and artworks in Italy by activists demanding more government action to tackle the climate crisis.

The bill, subject to approval by parliament, was proposed by culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano following the recent attack by so-called 'eco vandals' on the 17th-century Barcaccia fountain in Rome.

"Those who carry out these acts must also accept financial responsibility," stated Sangiuliano, noting that it cost authorities around €40,000 to clean up a spray paint attack on the Italian senate earlier this year.

Under the proposed new law, proceeds from the fines would be used to clean and restore monuments that are defaced or damaged during the protests, many of which have been carried out by members of a collective known as Ultima Generazione.

The group's spokesperson Simone Ficicchia told news agency Adnkronos: "We are all very surprised that, instead of dealing with the climate crisis, the government is increasingly active in promoting ad hoc laws to punish non-violent actions put in place by people concerned about everyone's future".

The blitz at the Barcaccia fountain, which saw its waters dyed black on 1 April, was the latest in a string of actions by climate activists in Rome and Milan, from staging road blocks in rush hour traffic to gluing their hands to artworks.

Last month Florence mayor Dario Nardella intervened personally to tackle activists as they sprayed paint over the facade of Palazzo Vecchio.

Climate activists have also made headlines for spraying paint on La Scala opera house as well as emptying bags of flour over Andy Warhol's painted car in Milan and throwing pea soup onto a Van Gogh masterpiece in Rome.

Last summer they made international news by gluing themselves to the protective glass in front of Botticelli's Primavera at the Uffizi in Florence.

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