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The Scala dei Turchi cliff and its adjacent beach

Sicily’s Scala dei Turchi has been restored after a vandal act

Sicily’s Scala dei Turchi has been restored after a vandal act

The coastal white cliff is one of the island's most famous sites

Last Friday night, the famous Scala dei Turchi cliff in southern Sicily was the object of a vandal act, which saw a large section of it covered with red plaster powder with the likely expectation that once it rained all of the rock would turn red.

Some might consider it a crime, others an art performance of extremely poor taste, but the good news is that those responsible have now been arrested thanks to footage from video surveillance cameras.

Natural heritage at risk

The news of the vandalization resounded strongly with the Italian public, but even before the offenders were caught there was some bright news related to the event.

For one, the substance that was smeared on the marl cliffs was iron dioxide powder, which is normally used in paints. Fortunately, the experts calmed the public saying that it was possible to remove without damage to the rocks.

Then, on Sunday morning, municipal employees were given a helping hand by willing volunteers in carrying out a clean-up operation before the dye would set in and turn permanent.

This effort even got the attention of the late President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, whose last Facebook post before he passed away was dedicated to the volunteers.

It reads: “My applause to the young people and young volunteers who in record time helped the municipal employees to clean up the enchanting Scala dei Turchi, on the Sicilian coast of Realmonte, from the red paint poured by the vandals.

Dear guys, your care, your attention to the environment and to beauty is a credit to Sicily, Italy and the whole world: VERY GOOD!”

The Scala dei Turchi is a famous chalk-white cliff jutting out of the southern coast of Sicily near the town of Realmonte. Its appeal has merited inclusion in literary works and even on the tentative list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It has also been at the centre of a long legal dispute between the municipality of Realmonte and a local landowner, leading Italian prosecutors to seize control of the site in February 2020.

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