Vatican Fountains Turned Off in Response to Drought
Vatican authorities began on Monday to turn off some 100 fountains, including two Baroque masterpieces in St. Peter's Square, due to a prolonged drought affecting the tiny city state and the city of Rome which surrounds it, according to Reuters.
Suffocating summer heat has followed two years of lower-than-average rainfall in Rome, forcing the Italian capital to close drinking fountains and consider the prospect of water rationing.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said it was the first time authorities in the spiritual home of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics could remember being forced to turn off the fountains.
Standing in St. Peter's Square, where two fountains by 17th-century sculptors Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini stood dry, Burke said the Vatican wanted to help.
Rome is gasping after 72 percent less rain than normal fell in July, according to Sky Italia's weather TV channel. There was 74 percent less than normal in June, and a 56 percent reduction from the long-term average across March, April and May.
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