The Italian Culture Ministry proposed a new bill on Tuesday that would punish anyone between €10,000 and €60,000 EUR ($11,000 to $65,000 USD) for vandalizing monuments, buildings and public artwork. The efforts come in response to a series of protests by climate activists, such as last month’s smearing of the Vittorio Emanuele II statue in Milan by Ultima Generazione (Last Generation), along with a similar incident at the Palazzo Madama (the Senate House) in Rome, the latter costing $44,000 USD in restoration fees.
Led by culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the bill would seek to address the “destruction, dispersion, deterioration, disfigurement, soiling, and illicit use” of the nation’s cultural heritage, and allocate the funds raised for restoration efforts. “Attacks on monuments and artistic sites cause economic damage to the community,” said Sangiuliano in a past statement. “Whoever carries out these acts must also assume financial responsibility.”
♠️ Roma – Tinta di nero l'acqua della fontana della Barcaccia 🚰
E' assurdo che questo gesto vi scandalizzi, quando stiamo vivendo un'emergenza siccità che mette in crisi l'agricoltura, la produzione di energia… insomma la nostra stessa sussistenza, e ci sono dei responsabili. pic.twitter.com/AROZ0oU8CX
— Ultima Generazione (@UltimaGenerazi1) April 1, 2023
An anonymous member of Ultima Generazione, who referred to himself as Sandro, laughed at the hefty restoration fees, telling Hyperallergic that they consult with specialists “in order to make sure that we don’t do any permanent damage.”
The new bill comes just a week after climate protestors poured black dye into Pietro Bernini’s Barcaccia Fountain, located at the Spanish Steps. “Behind the act [is] the desperation stemming from the continual issuing of ever more alarming statistics and data on the eco-climate collapse,” said Ultima Generazione in a statement.
Under right-leaning prime minister Giorgia Meloni, many believe the bill will pass through Italian parliament.