5 Sep 2011

Three Rome landmarks attacked

9:48 pm on 5 September 2011

There have been a series of attacks on historic monuments in Rome.

In the first, a man was filmed on closed circuit television cameras repeatedly hitting a marble statue on a fountain in the Piazza Navona. By the time police arrived the man had fled the scene.

The fountain - a 19th century copy - was not seriously damaged. The original statues are housed in a museum for safe keeping.

Hours later a man was filmed throwing a rock at the Trevi Fountain - which featured in the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain - in front of hundreds of tourists.

Police say the perpetrator may have been the same man who carried out the Piazza Navona attack.

In a further attack, a 20-year-old American student was caught scaling a wall of the Colosseum and trying to chip away pieces of marble from the Roman amphitheatre to take home as a souvenir.

The BBC reports that Rome's fragile art heritage is under attack by a new army of vandals - the name originally given to the invaders who first sacked the city and destroyed many of its monuments 15 centuries ago.

Part of an Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome 2,000 years ago has just been covered in graffiti.

Despite the installation of 1,200 security cameras in central Rome and more frequent police patrols, protecting the Italian capital's artistic treasures is proving an increasingly difficult task in an age of mass tourism and government budget cuts.