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Sicily plans Catholic Mount Rushmore

There are plans for the faces of the Pope, Mother Teresa and Padre Pio, to be carved into the hills of Segesta in Sicily.

The local mayor hopes the sculptures will be big enough to be seen from space and will draw 250,000 visitors annually.

Segesta boasts a 2500-year-old Greek theatre and temple. But the mayor, Nicola Cristaldi, argues that it needs to offer something extra. The site will include an altar, toilets and other facilities.

Each face, 20 metres high, will rival those of the four US presidents carved into the Black hills of South Dakota. The $A8.42 million cost will be split between private investors, the regional government and nearby Calatafimi.

But the scheme has its critics. Environmentalists fear that Segesta's natural beauty will be destroyed, while archaeologists say funds would be better spent on excavations around the Greek ruins. And not all the locals are thrilled with the prospect of bulldozers shattering the valley's tranquility.

The Guardian