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Italian man scales St. Peter's to protest austerity

The man escaped Vatican security guards and scaled the 426-foot high dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

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An Italian man defied gravity by scaling the 426-foot high dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to protest economic conditions in Italy. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)

An Italian man defied gravity by scaling the 426-foot high dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to protest economic conditions in Italy.  

Marcello De Finizio, the owner of a beach-front concession and restaurant in the northern city of Trieste, scaled the basilica Tuesday night and spent all day Wednesday on his perch, protesting Italy's tough economic reforms, reports AP. 

De Finizio hung a banner that read, "Help! Enough Monti!" -- in reference to Italian President Mario Monti.

"I am not a crazy who wants to kill himself," De Finizio told Sky24 by cell phone from atop the cathedral. "So far there have been only promises, they have only made cuts."

Officials told NBC News on Wednesday that the man refused appeals from government ministers offering to meet with him if he would come down.

"I have spoken by phone with some ministers," De Finizio told Sky24, "but I won't get down to receive only a pat on the back and a kick in the behind, like always."

Reuters reports that De Finizio is angry about a plan from the European Union and Italian government that will see licenses to operate patches of seafront auctioned off transparently from 2016.

The plan may favor corporations over small business owners like De Finizio. 

The protest shocked locals and tourists down below who saw the man tottering on the ledge. 

"I don't think this is a gesture that is normal, it is a gesture born out of desperation," Rome resident Massimo Cerri told Reuters. "I hope desperation doesn't begin to become the norm for people."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/121003/italian-man-scales-st-peters-protest-austerity