The Italian Almanac

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red water in Trevi fountain

Red Water

The waters of Rome's famous Trevi Fountain turned blood red on Friday after a man threw paint into the basin in a bizarre act of vandalism apparently inspired by the Futurists of the early 20th century. The man, reportedly wearing a beret and a light-coloured jacket, struck at around 4.30 pm and then disappeared into the crowd of tourists, leaving behind a pile of leaflets.

The fountain, which re-uses the same water in a continuous cycle, soon started spurting red water into the air from its jets, providing an unprecedented spectacle which tourists immediately began photographing. Police said they were afraid that the marble of the fountain could be damaged by the continued contact with the red water.

The leaflets found beside the fountain claimed that the colouring of the monument had been carried out by 'FTM Futurist Action 2007', a name which had never been heard ofbefore. The leaflet said this group aimed to battle against "everything and everyone with a spirit of healthy violence" and to turn this "grey bourgeois society into a triumph of colour".

The baroque fountain is a tourist magnet and one of the symbols of Rome. Ever since actress Anita Ekberg frolicked in its waters in Federico Fellini's 1960 film classic La Dolce Vita, there has been a succession of tourists who have tried to do the same thing. Until now no one had ever changed the colour of its waters.