Tourist marvel defaced by vandals

Sicily’s iconic Scala dei Turchi cliffs have been plastered with red dye

An investigation has been launched by the Italian police after a popular Sicilian tourist site – the white cliffs of Scala dei Turchi – has been defaced by unknown vandals who covered it with red dye.

Scala dei Turchi – or the ‘Turkish steps’ – is one of the most popular attractions in Sicily, visited by tourists from both Italy and abroad. The site also features prominently in the ‘Inspector Montalbano’ book series by the late Italian author Andrea Camilleri, and an Italian TV series of the same name.

The white limestone cliffs, formed in a shape of a staircase, hence its name, were once a hiding place for Mediterranean pirates. Yet the cliffs, put forward as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status, were plastered with red dye during the night of Friday, January 7.

Before and after #ScaladeiTurchi pic.twitter.com/jYK0VYUDU5

— Wanted in Rome (@wantedinrome) January 9, 2022

The local police department launched a probe into the incident and law enforcement specialists managed to find out that the red dye was a red iron oxide powder mixed with water, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. The police are now looking through surveillance camera images from local shops to potentially identify people who might have bought the substance in question recently.

The incident provoked a wave of outrage from both politicians and locals. President of Sicily Nello Musumeci condemned “the perpetrators of this cowardly act,” who “shamefully defaced” the cliffs.

deturpare la marna bianca della #ScaladeiTurchi con della vernice rossa non è solo un atto criminale…ma anche da troglodita ignorante che non ha alcuna consapevolezza dell’unicità ed eccezionalità di un siffatto monumento naturale…#Agrigento #realmonte #Sicilia pic.twitter.com/DIsEGn3vnh

— Sirio (@siriomerenda) January 8, 2022

People on social media also spared no words as they slammed the perpetrators, whom they described as “ignorant troglodytes” who committed a “criminal” and “ignoble” act. Others said they were “furious” and called the incident a “huge shame.”

On the bright side, people also voiced their support for the local volunteers who began the clean-up. The damage appears not to be permanent, since the lower part of the cliffs had been cleaned by the sea waves.

A group of young volunteers is trying to whitening back the “Scala dei Turchi” (Turkish Steps), after the vandalism. When common sense, sharing & love for the beauty prevails ❤️🙌💪✨#ScaladeiTurchi https://t.co/qBcC9T3069 pic.twitter.com/l5aopivC7z

— Valeria Giannotta (@valegiannotta) January 9, 2022

Vandalism appears not to be the only problem at the site, since it is also affected by natural erosion and a huge number of tourists who do not shy away from stealing pieces of the rock.

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