Imagine the scene.
Rome’s city centre almost inaccessible because of a ceremony to dedicate a street to former Italian president Carlo AzeGlio Ciampi, joined even by the incumbent head of State Mattarella.
But the sign doesn’t get unveiled.
Ciampi’s name was misspelled. pic.twitter.com/ZVOXSiAlH0
— Antonello Guerrera (@antoguerrera) June 1, 2021
Former president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi leaves the Quirinale Palace in Rome, 15 May 2006, after Giorgio Napolitano was sworn in as Italy's new president. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP)
A marble street sign honouring Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was left veiled during an inauguration ceremony even as the misspelled “Azelio” was still visible through a drape of purple and gold, the official colours of the ancient city.
The blunder happened under the gaze of Italy’s current president Sergio Mattarella and other dignitaries including Ciampi’s two adult children, with a military brass band also present.
The official excuse given by city hall for not unveiling the plaque during the ceremony was that it had been damaged during installation.
The street sign was replaced in a matter of hours, but only after proceedings were over.
“I was only warned this morning, I immediately gave orders to install a new plaque which in fact is already in place,” said Mayor Virginia Raggi, who admitted there had been a misspelling.
The ANSA news agency said the city hall employee responsible for the error had been identified after a “quick internal investigation”, and risked being sanctioned and moved to another position.
Meanwhile, #Ciampi became one of Italy’s trending topics on Twitter, as users — including political rivals looking at the next mayoral elections, due in late 2021 — rushed to ridicule Raggi and her administration.
“As the great Italian that he was, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi would have probably had a laugh. But this incredible mistake is very revealing of the carelessness of the current city government,” centre-left candidate Roberto Gualtieri wrote.
Raggi hails from the formerly anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and in her time in office she has been dogged by accusations of incompetence and hobbled by infighting among her party’s ranks.
Ciampi, who died in 2016 aged 95, was president from 1999-2006. He previously served as prime minister and head of the central bank, and was also a finance minister who helped Italy qualify for the eurozone in the late 1990s.
The square named after him is a pedestrian space on the embankment of the Tiber River and at the foot of the Aventine hill, normally used by skateboarders.