Piazza Navona fountain damaged

Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona has been on the receiving end of two separate acts of anti-social behaviour over the weekend, leading to an appeal by residents for greater protection of the baroque square.

During the early hours of 11 May a group of around 20 foreign students jumped off the ancient monument into the water. Their actions, which were detected by closed circuit television, showed one girl climbing along the fragile tail of the dragon. As the police arrived the group escaped on foot in the direction of Corso Vittorio.

At dawn the next day the same CCTV cameras showed two Spanish men, aged 32 and 33, naked in the fountain, which dates to 1651. This time the police apprehended the tourists who were detained for vandalism and obscene acts in public.

Guido Campopiano, the president of the Navona 2003 association, claims that the square is neglected and should have improved lighting and greater police protection to combat anti-social behaviour.

However the city's cultural superintendent Umberto Broccoli highlighted the importance of surveillance cameras which are monitored around the clock. He said it would be impossible to station police at every monument in Rome, and that anyway nothing can be done about "morons who lack common sense and intelligence."