The Italian Almanac

obelisk

It happens in Italy - January 4th

A long-running cultural and diplomatic wrangle looks likely to be resolved within months, with the return of a 1,700-year-old obelisk that was hauled out of Ethiopia by Italian colonial troops in the fascist era.

The treasured stone column would be flown home from Rome in May, putting an end to years of procrastination and 18 months of logistical delays.

Italy first promised to give back the Axum obelisk in 1947. But it was not until November 2003 that Silvio Berlusconi's government signed a deal with the authorities in Addis Ababa, and the 200 tons column was divided into sections for its return journey.