Italy planning 5-figure fines for monument and art vandalism

ROME (AP) – Italy will push for a law imposing stiff, five-figure fines on vandals who damage monuments or other cultural sites, to help pay for the repairs and clean-up.

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the government approved proposed legislation championed by the culture minister that would impose fines starting at 10,000 euros (nearly $11,000) and as high as 60,000 euros (about $65,000).

Premier Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government has a comfortable majority in Parliament, so the proposal is expected to be easily approved and adopted into law.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said that it recently cost the government 40,000 euros (almost $44,000) to clean the façade of the 15th-century Palazzo Madama, which is home to the Italian Senate, after it was vandalized. Just days ago, activists pressing for more action on climate change dumped black dye into the waters of a monumental fountain sculpted by Bernini at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

“The attacks on monuments and artistic sites produce economic damage to all,” the minister said in a statement. “To clean it up, the intervention of highly specialized personnel and the use of very costly machines are needed,” he said. “Whoever carries out these acts must assume also the financial responsibility.”

The Bernini fountain was also trashed in 2015 by Dutch soccer fans, who left empty beer bottles floating in its water.

In July 2022, Italian environmental activists glued their hands to the glass protecting Sandro Botticelli’s iconic painting “Spring” in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, police said. The museum said thanks to the glass, which was installed as a precaution several years ago, the masterpiece was unharmed.

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