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ROME

Rome sparks ridicule with botched dedication to ex-president Ciampi

The city of Rome on Tuesday dedicated a square beside the River Tiber to a late Italian president, but spoilt the inauguration by misspelling one of his first names.

Rome sparks ridicule with botched dedication to ex-president Ciampi
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.
 
 
 
 

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ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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