Protester climbs St Peter's Basilica
An Italian man has eluded Vatican security and scaled the 130m high dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to protest over Italian government and European Union policies.
Officials said the man, who identified himself as the owner of a beach resort, refused appeals from government ministers offering to meet him if he would come down.
He put up a banner saying “Help! Enough Monti!”, referring to Italian premier Mario Monti, who has been implementing tough austerity measures and economic reforms to bring down Italy’s debt and deficit and spur growth.
Video footage showed the man, identified as Marcello Di Finizio, jumping over railings near the top of the 137m-high dome yesterday afternoon, shocking visitors taking a tour. He then tied a cord to the railings and abseiled to a ledge over a window in the cupola.
Tottering on the ledge, Di Finizio unveiled a banner reading: "Help! Enough Monti, Enough Europe! Enough Multinationals!".
He remained on the dome overnight, flashing a strobe light as Vatican police and firefighters worked to find a way to bring him down to safety.
Alex Giuzio, a friend of the protester, told Reuters that Di Finizio owns a beach bar that rents out parasols and lounge chairs to sunbathers.
He said he is angry about a European Union directive and Italian government plan that will see licences to operate patches of seafront auctioned off transparently from 2016. Beach workers say the plan will favour multinational companies over smaller local businesses.
Mr Di Finizio has staged several public protests against the plans, and had already climbed out onto St Peter's dome during a shorter protest in July when he demanded a meeting with Tourism Minister Piero Gnudi, according to beach industry website Mondo Balneare.