The iconic cliffs of Scala dei Turchi in Italy disfigured by vandals | Italy

An investigation is underway after Sicily’s famous white limestone Scala dei Turchi cliff was “shamefully disfigured” by red powder dust.

La Scala dei Turchi, or Turkish Steps, is one of Italy’s most visited tourist spots and features prominently in Inspector Montalbano’s books by the late author Andrea Camilleri.

The cliff, which is shaped like a huge staircase jutting out into the Mediterranean from the coast of Realmonte in southern Sicily, was vandalized on Friday evening.

The first inspections established that the culprits degraded the cliff with red iron oxide powder, a material quite easy to remove, as evidenced by the fact that the marks on the lower part of the cliff were partially removed by the sea. Realmonte volunteers began cleaning up the remaining marks on Saturday.

The cliffs of Scala dei Turchi were colored with a mixture of water and red plaster powder. Photograph: Concetta Rizzo / EPA

“The splendid white marl cliff of Scala dei Turchi, an attraction of the Agrigento region for visitors from all over the world, has been shamefully disfigured,” said Nello Musumeci, President of Sicily. “We condemn the perpetrators of this cowardly gesture. It is an outrage not only to an asset of rare beauty, but also to the image of our island. I hope that justice will quickly identify those responsible.

Luigi Patronaggio, the chief prosecutor of Agrigento, opened an investigation and ordered tests on the equipment used in order to trace recent sales of red powder powder in the region and, ultimately, the buyers. Police are also looking for clues via CCTV footage.

La Scala dei Turchi was nominated as a candidate for Unesco World Heritage status in 2019. However, the monument was temporarily closed and seized by prosecutors in early 2020 after years of complaints about its poor conservation.

The cliffs of Scala dei Turchi before they were degraded, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
The cliffs of Scala dei Turchi before they were degraded, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Photograph: Yola Watrucka / Alamy

The cliff has suffered from natural erosion but also from the large number of tourists, some of whom have stolen pieces of rock, made of soft white limestone.

The investigation also probed the ownership of the Scala dei Turchi, which has been disputed for years between the local authorities of Realmonte and Ferdinando Sciabbarà, who claimed ownership of part of the coastline on the basis of documents dating from the 19th century. century.

Sciabbarà has been investigated for occupation of state-owned land and other crimes related to the preservation of the site. He was fined € 9,100 last summer and the land was returned to him. According to information in the Italian press, Sciabbarrà is ready to sell its share of the land to the local authority, provided that a nature reserve is established.

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