4 Oct 2012

Protester down from Vatican dome

7:54 pm on 4 October 2012

An man who was perched near the top of St Peter's Basilica in Rome for 24 hours to protest against Italy's austerity measures has climbed down.

Marcello Di Finizio was pulled to safety from a ledge on the 130-metre-high dome by firemen and Vatican police on Wednesday.

Mr Di Finizio, a beach resort owner from Trieste in northern Italy, climbed over the rails surrounding the dome on Tuesday, before lowering himself with a rope onto a ledge, AAP reports.

From there, he hung a banner which read: "Help! Enough Monti, Enough Europe... Do you call this growth? This is simply social butchery!"

Despite repeated attempts by Vatican police and Italian firemen to coax him off the ledge, Mr Di Finizio spent the night there and was determined to stay.

"I'm desperate, I'm ready to risk my life," he said.

AAP reports he remained in clear view while Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly general audience.

Prime Minister Mario Monti has imposed a series of sweeping austerity measures to tackle Italy's debt.

Two government ministers spoke to Mr Di Finizio on the phone late on Tuesday to try to persuade him to come down but he refused, before eventually giving in.

"Nothing has been done. Promises have been made and that's all. This story has to come to an end, Italy's economy must be restarted. They've made cuts but zero programmes for growth," he told La Repubblica newspaper.

The Vatican said Mr Di Finizio scaled the dome once before, at the end of July, by pretending to be a tourist before slipping past the guards.