Topless Italian climate protesters block Rome traffic

Italy's ''Ultima Generazione'' (Last Generation) climate activists protest topless in downtown Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Topless climate activists on Thursday blocked traffic on a busy street in central Rome to protest over the Italian government's climate policy after torrential rains killed two people.

The stunt marked a change of tactics by the Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) group after Rome's right-wing executive introduced stiff fines against protesters who target monuments and heritage sites.

The group previously hurled paint at Milan's La Scala opera house and at the headquarters of state lender CDP, and also threw soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome and flour at an Andy Warhol-decorated car in Milan.

On Thursday, Last Generation released footage showing a small group of activists kneeling on zebra crossings in Rome and taking off their tops or - in one case - stripping naked.

Police intervened within minutes to clear them.

"Bare-breasted and bare-chested in the streets to denounce the obscenity of the government, which continues to watch impassively as its citizens die from extreme weather events and feeds the cause by unscrupulously subsidising the fossil industry," the movement said in a statement.

After months of drought which raised concerns about the low levels of the Po, Italy's largest river, heavy rains lashed the northern Emilia-Romagna region earlier this week, causing extensive damage. Activists blame the extreme weather on climate change due to fossil fuels.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro; editing by Alvise Armellini, Alexandra Hudson)