VATICAN CITY (CBS) -- A man prepared to spend the second day on a ledge on the dome of St Peter's Basilica on Tuesday (May 21) as he protests against Italy's political system and its collapsing economy.
Identified by police as Marcello Di Finizio, the man has unfurled a white banner reading "Stop this massacre! The political horror show is continuing," in English, scrawled in black and red ink, with "Help us Pope Francis" in Italian.
He also waved an Italian flag as he balanced precariously above a small window near the top of the 137-metre dome.
Di Finizio had owned a successful restaurant and beach resort near Trieste on the Italian eastern coast, but now he says he is unable to keep the business open with the all the additional taxes and payments he is being asked to make by the government.
"They are continuing to hit the people in production in this country from all sides, including the beach resorts which I am involved in and the substance is that up until yesterday I had a successful business and employed fifteen people. Today, it wasn't the crisis that ruined us it was the Italian state that failed to protect Italian companies," Di Finizio said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
Italy is stuck in its longest recession since quarterly records began in 1970, and jobless rates are close to record highs. Support for a month-old coalition government has already fallen to 34 percent from 43 percent since it was cobbled together in April to bring an end to political stalemate.
"The government should be protecting these companies and people who have mortgages and send their children to school. How is it possible that we can't even eat? We have really arrived at the end," said Rome resident Caterina Stella as she passed by St. Peter's Square.
"We need to put all our voices together, this poor person there on their own, will stay on their own and everyone will just say 'poor thing'. I don't think this is the best way," said nun Tarcisia Comuniana.
Di Finizio has staged similar protests on the dome in the past. Last October he stayed there overnight with a banner criticizing multinationals, Europe, and former Prime Minister Mario Monti.