The Vatican has turned off its famous fountains for the first time in living memory as drought caused by hot dry weather spreads across Italy.
“The drought that is affecting the city of Rome and the surrounding areas of the capital has led the Holy See to take measures to save water,” read an information on the website.
“The Governorate of Vatican City State has decided to turn off all the fountains, both the external ones located in St. Peter’s Square, and the interior fountains including those in the Vatican Gardens.”
According to the CNN, the Vatican has about 100 decorative and drinking fountains, including two 500-year-old marble masterpieces in St. Peter’s Square.
Similarly authorities in charge of the city of Rome have also begun to turn off some of the 2,500 drinking fountains for which the city is renowned. The fountains also served to quench people’s thirsts in the hot summer months.
An official told newsmen that a minimum of 85 fountains will remain open, adding that a decision will be reached on how many fountains to close day by day, based on the weather and severity of drought.
The hot weather has also triggered wild fires in some parts of Italy and France, leading to the destruction of almost two-thirds of the country’s farmland.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by Coldiretti, an Italian farmers’ lobby group, “violent thunderstorms and hailstones on farmland exhausted by drought in a crazy summer marked by extreme (weather) events has driven up the financial losses in the countryside to more than 2 billion euros”.