Anti-Austerity Protester Spends the Night on the Dome of Saint Peter's Basilica

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An Italian bar owner climbed onto the roof of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican last night and unfurled a giant sign protesting against the Italian government and the European Union's plans to rescue his nation from financial ruin. The man went out onto an observation balcony (about 450 feet above the ground) with several other tourists on Tuesday night, then climbed over the railing and lowered himself down to a window ledge with a length of rope. He was still there when the sun came up on Wednesday morning as police failed to lure back off the ledge.

This is not the first public protest staged by Marcello di Finizio, a 46-year-old man who owns a bar and beach rental business. In July, he climbed out onto the same dome for four hours, demanding a meeting  with Italy's tourism minister, and in March he spent four days on top of a crane in the port city of Trieste. 

The sign he unveiled last night reads, "Help!!! Enough with Monti, Enough with Europe, Enough with multinationals. You are killing us all. Development??? This is simply social butchery." Monti is Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. Di Finizio is concerned that the EU bailout and new regulations that come with favore large multinational corporations and destroy small businesses like his. At the time of this post, he was still out on the roof.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.