The Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, was forced to abandon a ceremony dedicating a road in Rome to one of his predecessors, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, after officials noticed the name on the stone plaque was misspelled.
Instead of “Azeglio”, the street marker said “Azelio”. Mattarella had already turned up to the event on Tuesday, alongside members of Ciampi’s family and the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, before the embarrassing mistake was noticed, with the lettering showing up clearly through the translucent cloth covering the plaque.
The error lit up social media, with Raggi’s many critics saying the gaffe was symbolic of the city’s wider problems.
“A debacle of historical proportions, the last of a very long series that fortunately will end soon. Rome deserves better,” said the centre-left politician Carlo Calenda, who has indicated he will stand against Raggi in elections due later this year.
Raggi’s allies said it was a conspiracy designed to damage the mayor, who is a member of the anti-system Five Star Movement (M5S).
“Elections are approaching and they are doing all they can to stop Virginia Raggi. The plaque with the wrong name of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi is not a simple mistake. Do you think it is possible? I don’t,” said the M5S city councillor Paolo Ferrara.
Ciampi was president from 1999 a 2006. He died aged 95 en 2016.
A corrected sign was put up before the end of the day.