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Marcello Di Finizio has scaled the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, in an apparent protest against EU measures he alleges penalize small businesses.

He is standing on one of the many ornate window ledges of the dome.

A large fabric banner hangs beneath him reading, “Help! Enough Monti. Enough Europe. Enough multinationals!”

Marcello Di Finizio, a beach bar owner, staged a similar protest in July against an EU directive that will see parts of the seafront auctioned off.

Firefighters have been pacing a walkway which circles the cupola on the top of the dome.

On the square below, Pope Benedict XVI held a service on Wednesday morning.

Marcello Di Finizio started to scale the dome, an iconic feature of one of Catholicism’s most revered churches, on Tuesday afternoon.

According to one of his friends, he is angry about an EU directive, backed by the Italian government, which will reform rules for auctioning licenses to operate patches of Italy’s seafront. He argues the measure will favor big multinationals.

A telephone call to Italian ministers on Tuesday failed to persuade him to climb down.

Marcello Di Finizio rents out parasols and sun loungers to sun bathers.

In August beach operators protested against the measures by keeping parasols closed along large stretches on Italy’s coastline.

The operators have said the new rules threaten the jobs of some 600,000 resort workers.

The directive is due to come into effect in Italy from 2016.

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