‘President’s school’ shut over fear of collapse

An Italian high school famous for educating the country's presidents has closed due to fears that part of the building could collapse, Italian media has reported.

'President's school' shut over fear of collapse
Francesco Cossiga was president from 1985 to 1992. Photo: Presidenza della Repubblica/Wikimedia Commons

The Liceo Classico Azuni, in Sassari, Sardinia, has closed after local authorities found the attic was at risk of falling through, La Repubblica reported on Wednesday.

Four hundred students were sent home as a result as the head teacher looks for a way to resume classes, the newspaper said.

The Sardinian school is famed for educating some of Italy’s key politicians, such as Antonio Segni, president in the 1960s, and Francesco Cossiga, who served as head of state from 1985 to 1992.

Palmiro Togliatti, former leader of the Italian Communist Party, and Enrico Berlinguer, former party secretary, were also students at Liceo Classico Azuni.

The news comes less than two weeks after part of a ceiling at the Liceo Classico Dettori on the island caved in. A teacher and two students were injured, La Repubblica said.

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Theft of sand from Sardinia’s beaches on the rise again – despite fines of up to €3,000

With the return of mass tourism this summer came a new increase in the theft of sand, pebbles and shells from Sardinia’s protected beaches, environmental campaigners say.

Theft of sand from Sardinia’s beaches on the rise again - despite fines of up to €3,000
A beach in Sardinia's Porto San Paolo. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP

A campaign group called ‘Sardegna rubata e depredata’ (Sardinia robbed and plundered) estimated that at least six tonnes of sand had been taken from the island’s beaches this year alone, mostly by foreign visitors.

In 2017, it became illegal to remove sand, shells and pebbles from Sardinia’s beaches as they were classed as protected resources. People breaking these rules face fines of between €500 and €3,000 – and anyone caught attempting to take larger quantities risks a prison term.

But it seems that many visitors haven’t got the message, as sand theft – and the number of fines being issued to those caught stealing – has risen again this summer with the return of international tourists.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing to protect its coastline?

In July alone, customs officers at Sardinia’s Alghero airport seized 1.4 kilograms of sand from the island’s beaches during systematic bag searches, the Ansa news agency reported on Tuesday.

Items found in the possession of departing passengers at the airport last month reportedly included numerous plastic bottles filled with sand, 743 sea pebbles, 43 shells and a rock weighing 1.2 kg. 

All passengers caught with the illegal souvenirs were fined, police said.

Campaigners said most culprits are foreign tourists who usually “don’t really have a motive”. 

“Perhaps to arouse the envy of friends and relatives, or to recreate the feeling of the holiday in their living rooms, or even to decorate a home aquarium,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

“Some do it probably because there is such a sense of discomfort in having to leave the island. They try in a desperate way to take it with them, in their hands, instead of keeping the memories in the heart,” the group said.

In rarer cases, the motive for the theft appears to be profit – with reports in Italian media that bags of precious pink sand from Sardinia’s protected beaches are being sold online to “collectors”.

A couple of French tourists last year were caught trying to board a ferry with 40kg of sand in 14 large plastic bottles in the boot of their car.