Image: Spanish Steps
Andrew Medichini  /  AP
Municipal cleaners remove colored balls from Rome's Spanish Steps after a man identified as Graziano Cecchini dumped what he said were some 500,000 colored balls.
updated 1/16/2008 12:04:46 PM ET 2008-01-16T17:04:46

Hundreds of thousands of brightly colored balls went cascading down Rome's famed Spanish Steps on Wednesday in the latest stunt orchestrated by the man who dyed the waters of the Trevi Fountain red.

TV cameras caught organizer Graziano Cecchini and several others emptying bags full of red, green, yellow and blue balls down the 18th-century steps.

The balls bounced down the steps, filling the boat-shaped Barcaccia fountain in the piazza below in a spectacle that stunned passers-by, who snapped photos and scooped up the balls as souvenirs.

Officials were forced to briefly cordon off the popular tourist spot. Police detained Cecchini and three others, Italian news reports said.

Cecchini, interviewed at the scene, told Italian TV newscast TG5 that he uses "art — if we want to call it art — to stress our malaise."

He said half a million balls were deployed.

Street cleaners later shoveled the balls into garbage trucks and hosed down the stairs to remove strays.

Following his Trevi Fountain stunt in October, Cecchini was placed under investigation for possible damage to historical or artistic buildings.

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