On Thursday night, a number of Italian monuments were in darkness as they protested against soaring energy bills.
More than 8,000 towns and cities across Italy switched off the lights of their monuments in protest over the rise in energy prices. One such building was the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
The National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) organised the protest. They estimate bills will increase by around €550 million for local councils, out of “a total annual electricity expenditure that fluctuates between €1.6 and €1.8 billion.”
The symbolic act, for just a few minutes at 8pm, intended to highlight the problem to central government.
“We have chosen to turn off monuments and symbolic public buildings for a few minutes, to attract the government’s attention”. So said ANCI president Antonio Decaro told state broadcaster RAI News 24.
“It is a problem that affects everyone, from companies, to families up to local authorities. An estimated increase of 30% would not allow us to close our budgets and we could be forced to cut essential services, starting with public lighting which also plays a fundamental role in terms of urban safety.”
Rome mayor in agreement with initiative
The mayor of Rome and former Italian finance minister Roberto Gualtieri also “fully agrees” with the initiative. In a statement Gualtieri said the increase in bills “puts families and institutions in serious difficulty… especially in this historic moment that already sees us in trouble due to the pandemic. It is a problem that must be addressed and I am sure that the government will listen to the cry of alarm from citizens and mayors.”
On Wednesday, the prime minister nnounced the government is preparing a multi-billion package to reduce the impact of surging energy prices.
Surely, the symbolism as corners of Italy descended into darkness was evident to the government.