VATICAN CITY An Italian man clambered onto a ledge on the huge dome of St Peter's Basilica on Tuesday to stage a precarious protest against Prime Minister Mario Monti and the European Union.
Video footage showed the man, identified as Marcello Di Finizio, jumping over railings near the top of the 137-m- (450- ft-) high dome on Tuesday afternoon, shocking visitors taking a tour. He then tied a cord to the railings and abseiled to a ledge over a window in the cupola.
Tottering on the ledge, Di Finizio unveiled a banner reading: "Help! Enough Monti, Enough Europe! Enough Multinationals!".
He remained on the dome into Tuesday night, flashing a strobe light as Vatican police and firefighters worked to find a way to bring him down to safety.
Alex Giuzio, a friend of the protester, told Reuters that Di Finizio owns a beach bar that rents out parasols and lounge chairs to sunbathers.
He said he is angry about a European Union directive and Italian government plan that will see licenses to operate patches of seafront auctioned off transparently from 2016.
Beach workers say the plan will favor multinational companies over smaller local businesses.
Di Finizio has staged several public protests against the plans, and had already climbed out onto St Peter's dome during a shorter protest in July when he demanded a meeting with Tourism Minister Piero Gnudi, according to beach industry website Mondo Balneare.
(Reporting By Gabriele Pileri and Catherine Hornby; Editing by Michael Roddy)