Members of the Ultima Generazione
civil disobedience group on Friday sprayed orange paint over the
walls of Palazzo Vecchio, the home of Florence's town hall, in
the latest of a series of actions aiming to highlight the need
to combat the climate crisis.
Two activists, aged 23 and 32, were rapidly apprehended by police.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella blasted the protesters as "barbarians".
"This isn't the way to protest," said the mayor, who was in the square outside the palace at the time, helped block one of the activists and even lent a hand with the clean-up operation.
"They should defend culture (not attack it)".
Ultima Generazione, which uses easy-to-wash-off paint for its actions of this kind, said the action was staged to highlight public investments in fossil fuels, which are the driving force of the greenhouse-gas emissions causing global heating.
UG have staged many similar protests, including splashing paint over the front of the Senate in Rome, the La Scala opera house and the Vittorio Emanuele II statue in Milan and sticking themselves to Botticelli's Spring at the Uffizi and the Laocoon statue in the Vatican, as well as blocking the Mt Blanc Tunnel, throwing flour over an Andy Warhol car in Milan, and throwing soup onto a Van Gogh in Rome.
"An Ecological Renaissance is needed at once to save the planet, via the ecological conversion that Pope Francis puts at the centre of the encyclical Laudato Sì," said one of the protesters, Giordano, a 23-year-old from the Tuscan city of Empoli, in a UG statement.
The statement also referred to the "unavoidable obligation" to address the climate crisis that President Sergio Mattarella talked about this week during a visit to Kenya.
"Today I am forced to rebel, even though I don't want to," added Giordano.
UG is part of the A22 network of climate civil-disobedience groups active in several countries, such as Just Stop Oil in the UK, Stop Old Growth in Canada, France's Derniere Renovation and Declare Emergency in the United States.
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