An investigation is under way after vandalism of Sicily’s white cliff with red powder. The Scala dei Turchi, or Turkish Steps, is one of Italy’s most visited tourist sites.
Authorities are investigating the vandalism of the Scala dei Turchi cliff in Sicily. Vandals defaced it with red powder on Friday night.
One of Italy’s most visited tourist sites, the cliff also features in the Inspector Montalbano books by the late author Andrea Camilleri. Shaped like a huge staircase, the cliff juts into the Mediterranean from the coast of Realmonte.
Red iron oxide
Initial inspections established the vandals used red iron oxide powder. It is fairly easy to remove as shown by the sea removing marks on the lower part of the cliff. Volunteers started cleaning the remaining marks on Saturday.
“The splendid white marl cliff of the Scala dei Turchi, an attraction of the Agrigento area for visitors from all over the world, has been shamefully defaced,” said Nello Musumeci, Sicily’s president. “We condemn the perpetrators of this cowardly gesture. It constitutes an outrage not only to an asset of rare beauty, but also to the image of our island. I hope the judiciary quickly identify those responsible.”
The Scala dei Turchi was a candidate for UNESCO world heritage status in 2019. However, in early 2020, after years of complaints about its poor preservation, prosecutors seized the land.
The cliff consists of soft limestone, which suffers natural erosion. However, tourists have added to the cliff’s problems with hundreds of them walking across it and stealing pieces of rock.
Ownership of the Scala dei Turchi has been contested for years by authorities in Realmonte and Ferdinando Sciabbarà. He claimed ownership based on 19th century documents.
Sciabbarà was investigated for the occupation of state-owned land and other crimes connected with the preservation of the site. Sciabbarà paid a €9,100 fine last summer and the land returned to him.