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Rome fountain vandal arrested

Man admits Piazza Navona attack, failed Trevi Fountain assault

05 September, 13:19
Rome fountain vandal arrested (ANSA) - Rome, September 5 - Italian police on Monday 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, which took place in the early hours of Saturday.

They said 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 as on Saturday, police said, 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.

"He was switching from lucid moments to confused states," they said.

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 later on Saturday, police said.

That much-loved landmark, of Three Coins in the Fountain fame, escaped unscathed.

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".

"Anyone who strikes an artistic monument is capable of any (kind of) violence or any madness, therefore there can be no clemency," he said.

Restoration work on the Fountain of the Moor began Monday 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.

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