Guns and rotting fish found at Sicilian pizzeria

A restaurant manager with alleged links to the mafia is on the run after police found a stash of weapons, bullets and rotting fish beneath his pizzeria near Palermo, Sicily.

Guns and rotting fish found at Sicilian pizzeria
Police found 70kg of rotting fish at the pizzeria near Palermo. Photo: Wikicommons

Police also discovered a soundproof room with a shooting range after calling in at the All’Ancora restaurant in Santa Flavia, which only in June was described by a customer on the travel website, TripAdvisor, as “an authentic, delicious little place.”


Tony Bartolo Lo Coco, 42, went on the run and left his partner, Anna Maria Assunta Basile, to face the music. She is now under house arrest for the illegal possession of arms and ammunition, as well as receiving stolen goods, according to a report on


Police said they had been observing Lo Coco, who was arrested in 1997 as part of an investigation that dismantled the Altavilla Milicia mafia clan, for some time. 


Among the weapons was a stolen Beretta gun, which had been used to fire bullets in the shooting range.


There was also a grim discovery of 70kg of rotting fish in what police described as a “filthy” kitchen. The restaurant has since been closed due to hygiene reasons.


Other commentators on TripAdvisor were equally oblivious to the goings-on beneath the restaurant’s surface. One described it as a “lifesaver”. Another said: “It offers a fairly limited menu – simple seafood and pizza – but all prepared fresh and cooked well. We tried the mussels, a few different pizzas, shrimp salad, and green salads.”


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Sicily braces for rare Mediterranean cyclone as storms continue

Sicily's residents are bracing for the arrival of a cyclone later on Thursday, the second this week after a deadly storm hammered the Italian island, killing three people.

Sicily braces for rare Mediterranean cyclone as storms continue
Cars and market stalls submerged in Catania, Sicily, after heavy rain hit the city and province on october 26th. Photo: STRINGER/ANSA/AFP

A rare tropical-style cyclone known as a “medicane” is set to reach Sicily’s eastern coast and the tip of mainland Calabria between Thursday evening and Friday morning, according to Italian public research institute ISPRA.

“Heavy rainfall and strong sea storms are expected on the coast, with waves of significant height over 4.5 metres (15 feet),” ISPRA said.

The Italian Department for Civil Protection placed eastern Sicily under a new amber alert for Thursday and the highest-level red lert for Friday in anticipation of the storm’s arrival, after almost a week of extreme weather in the area.

A total of three people have been reported killed in flooding on the island this week amid storms that left city streets and squares submerged.

On Tuesday, parts of eastern Sicily were ravaged by a cyclone following days of heavy rains that had sparked flooding and mudslides, killing three people.

Television images from Tuesday showed flooding in the emergency room of Catania’s Garibaldi-Nesima hospital, while rain was seen pouring from the roof inside offices at the city courtroom.

Thursday’s storm was set to hit the same area around Catania, Sicily’s second-largest city, even as residents were still mucking out their streets and homes.

Schools were closed in Syracuse and Catania, where the local government ordered public offices and courts closed through Friday.

The mayor of Catania on Tuesday shut down all businesses and urged residents to stay home.

Antonio Navarra, president of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper this week that Sicily was at the centre of extreme weather events, including heatwaves and cyclones.

“We’re trying to understand if, with climate change, these phenomena will become even more intense, if they will change their character as their frequency intensifies,” he said.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

Cars submerged in Catania, Sicily, after storms hit the city and province on October 26th. Photo: STRINGER/ANSA/AFP

Other forecasters have said the “medicane” is the latest evidence that the climate crisis is irreversibly tropicalising the Mediterranean, after the island’s south-eastern city of Syracuse this August recorded a temperature of 48.8C, the hottest ever seen in Europe.

“Sicily is tropicalising and the upcoming medicane is perhaps the first of this entity, but it certainly won’t be the last,” Christian Mulder, a professor of ecology and climate emergency at the University of Catania, told The Guardian on Wednesday.

“We are used to thinking that this type of hurricane and cyclone begins in the oceans and not in a closed basin like the Mediterranean. But this is not the case,” he said.

“This medicane is forming due to the torrid climate of north Africa and the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Aegean Sea has a temperature of 3C higher than the average, while the Ionian Sea has a temperature of almost 2C higher than the average. The result is a pressure cooker.”

The storm is expected to leave the area between Saturday and Sunday.