Activist-vandal dyes water of Rome's Trevi Fountain red

ROME — An Italian activist poured red dye into the Trevi Fountain on Thursday — 10 years after he pulled the same stunt vandalizing one of Rome's most famous monuments.

Graziano Cecchini insisted that the dye wouldn't harm the fountain and was intended as a protest against Rome's corruption and filth.

According to witnesses, Cecchini managed to climb onto the side of the fountain and pour the dye in, turning the Trevi pool into a murky red lake. Police escorted him from the scene.

In a statement, Cecchini said the protest was a "cry that Rome isn't dead, that it's alive and ready to return to be the capital of art, life and Renaissance."

Cecchini was also responsible for sending thousands of colored plastic balls down Rome's Spanish Steps in 2008.

By Thursday afternoon, authorities had turned off the Trevi's hydraulics and were draining the fountain pool to prevent any damage from the dye.

"Actions like this display ignorance and a total lack of civic sense," said the deputy mayor, Luca Bergamo.

During Cecchini's first red Trevi stunt in 2010, a right-wing group claimed responsibility and said it was to protest the cost of organizing the Rome Film Festival. It said the red dye referred to the festival's red carpet.

The 2017 edition of the festival opened Thursday.