The Italian Almanac

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fountain of the moor

The Fountains of Rome

Italian police arrested a local man suspected of vandalising a fountain in the city's landmark Piazza Navona and attempting to deface the capital's beloved Trevi Fountain. They said the man, 52, had admitted breaking off two heads of winged dragons from the Fountain of the Moor, the second most-famous work in the square after Renaissance master GIan Lorenzo Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain.

Police said they identified the man from CCTV footage of the vandalism, his heavy build and the distinctive white soles of his gym shoes had given him away. At the time of his arrest the man was wearing the same clothes and was still exhibiting signs of "confusion". They did not say whether this appeared to be due to mental problems or the use of drugs or alcohol.

The man, arrested in his home in Rome's historic centre, was quoted as saying he wanted to "attract attention" because of "personal problems" due to legal cases. The man also admitted the second attempted act of vandalism, throwing a brick at the Trevi Fountain. The vandalism was the latest in a string of similar acts in Rome and gained international headlines. After the man's arrest, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno hailed the police's "swift" work and called for an "exemplary punishment".

Restoration work on the Fountain of the Moor began after the chunks of marble snapped off by the vandal were recovered.

The fountain was designed by Giacomo della Porta in 1575 and the statue of the Moor grappling with a dolphin, by Bernini, was added in 1653 along with four Tritons. The original statues were moved to Villa Borghese in 1874 and replaced by copies.