The Italian Almanac

Pippa Bacca

Bride for Peace

Turkish leaders condemned the murder of an Italian 'bride for peace' artist who was raped and strangled while hitchhiking through the country in a case which has shocked and dismayed both Turkey and Italy. Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed his condolences for the killing of Giuseppina Pasqualino, 33, in a message sent to the Italian embassy in Ankara. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was ''deeply saddened'' and that he could not ''find the right words to describe this violent murder''.

Pasqualino, who also went by the name Pippa Bacca, went missing on March 31 while hitchhiking across Turkey dressed in a white wedding gown in a bid to promote peace. Her naked body was found hidden in bushes in woodland area near Gebze in northwest Turkey on Friday. Initial autopsy results showed she had been raped and murdered within hours of her disappearance. A 38-year-old Turkish man was charged with her murder. The suspect, who was tracked down by police after he inserted his SIM card into Bacca's stolen mobile phone, has confessed to raping and then strangling his victim with a shoe lace.

Bacca, who was the niece of Italy's iconic conceptual artist Piero Manzoni, left her hometown of Milan on March 8 with friend and fellow artist Silvia Moro, both dressed in long, white, flowing wedding dresses. The two planned to hitchhike their way to Jerusalem as part of their so-called 'Brides on Tour' project aimed at promoting peace in the countries they travelled through. Bacca and Moro separated when they got to Istanbul with the intention of meeting up again in Lebanon.

In a video clip of Bacca taken at the outset of her journey, the artist told the camera: ''This trip wants to prove that if one has faith in others then one receives only goodness in return''.