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Fashion label Fendi unveils suspended walkway over Rome’s Trevi Fountain

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Rome (AFP) – Fashion house Fendi kicked off the restoration of Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain Monday, unveiling a transparent suspended walkway which will give tourists a whole new vantage point of the historic monument.

Though the fountain has been drained for the renovation, a small basin has been set up at the rim so that visitors can continue the tradition of throwing a coin into the waters with their back turned — a custom which is said to bring good luck.

“The restoration works are invasive and will be disruptive for the thousands of tourists who come every day, but we thought the walkway would be the best way to show off the fountain,” Fendi’s CEO Pietro Beccari told AFP.

The plexiglass bridge “is a way to show people the fountain from a position no-one has been in before,” he said.

While much of the elaborate Baroque facade is now hidden under scaffolding, tourists crossing the basin on the walkway will be able to get a close look at the restoration as it takes place.

The 2.18 million euro ($2.98 million) repairs on the nearly 300-year-old fountain will take 18 months, Beccari said.

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While some tourists said they were curious to try out the bridge, others complained about finding one of the most iconic monuments in Italy under wraps.

– Penny in the fountain –

“We were very surprised because we thought we were just going to throw a penny in the fountain. But I’m kind of excited to see what is going on here,” said American tourist Pat, while Coco from Hong Kong said he was “really quite disappointed” to find the basin empty of water.

There had been concern about the state of the Trevi Fountain, which is visited by millions of tourists every year, particularly after bits of its elaborate cornice began falling off in 2012 following a particularly harsh winter.

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“Patronage is essential in maintaining and restoring our marvellous works of architecture, archaeology and art,” Rome’s mayor Ignazio Marino said, as he chucked a coin over his shoulder into the temporary basin.

Fendi, founded as a leather goods business in Rome in the 1920s and now part of French luxury giant LVMH, will also be funding the restoration of the Quattro Fontane, late Renaissance fountains which grace each corner of a busy intersection in the capital.

It is not the only fashion house to fund the renovation of the eternal city’s monuments: luxury jeweller Bulgari announced earlier this year that it would help clean up the city’s famous Spanish Steps, while shoemaker Tod’s is financing works at the Colosseum.

Under the deal with Rome city authorities, Fendi’s logo can be displayed on building site signs during the repairs and the company can hang a plaque near the monuments for four years after completion.

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The Trevi Fountain, commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730, is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water.

It famously featured in a scene of Federico Fellini’s iconic film La Dolce Vita in which Marcello Mastroianni and co-star Anita Ekberg share a kiss while wading through its pristine waters.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Putin says use of US force against Iran would be ‘disaster’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said any use of force by the US against Iran would lead to disaster as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran.

"The US says it does not rule out the use of force... This would be a disaster for the region," Putin said during an annual televised phone-in with screened questions posed by Russian viewers.

"It would lead to a surge in violence and an increase in the number of refugees," he said, adding that the consequences of intervention would be "difficult to calculate".

Moscow has backed Tehran in its stand off with the United States since Washington pulled out of an international 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran last year.

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Einstein’s relativity document gifted to Nobel museum

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The Nobel Museum in Stockholm has been gifted Albert Einstein's first paper published after he received the Nobel Prize in 1922 and discussing his then still controversial relativity theory.

Swedish businessman Per Taube bought the handwritten two-page document at an auction for 1.2 million krona (110,000 euros) in December last year.

He has now made good on his promise to gift the manuscript to the Nobel Museum, which will put it on display in a glass frame this autumn.

The paper, written in November 1922 while Einstein was attending conferences in south-east Asia, was published a month later by the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

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Missouri man threatened to ‘kill every gay person I can’ at St. Louis PrideFest: police

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A Missouri man this week was charged with making a terrorist threat after he said he planned to "kill every gay person I can" at St. Louis's annual PrideFest.

The St. Louis Dispatch reports that court documents filed this week claim that 49-year-old Edward A. Terry of Overland, Missouri created a fake email account and sent a message to a PrideFest organizer saying that he would "come to pride fest with my guns to kill every gay person I can before I kill myself."

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