Italy's looted treasures found in Rome 'museum'

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A display cabinet found in the villa, part of which was turned into a private museum. Photo: Guardia di Finanza
14:55 CEST+02:00
Authorities in central Italy have discovered a villa transformed into a private museum, housing hundreds of Roman artefacts allegedly stolen from the state.

Treasures filled the “splendid villa” in Lanuvio, south of Rome, which was transformed into “a small private museum”, Italy’s financial police said on Monday.

Roman columns, statues, decorated marble and fragments of mosaic were found along with funeral plates and well-preserved terracotta vases.

In one room police found display cabinets filled with ancient artefacts, while elsewhere they uncovered a bas-relief depicting a hunt and a collection of coins.

The vast haul has been catalogued with the the help of the Lazio region’s cultural heritage superintendency, police said.

Four people have been reported and accused of illegally possessing cultural heritage and state property.

Given Italy’s wealth of ancient sites, the country’s police force is embroiled in a continuous battle with heritage thieves. In March, a gang broke into Pompeii and stole part of a fresco from the UNESCO World Heritage site, despite security being upped in recent months.

READ MORE: Thieves steal part of Pompeii fresco

Italian authorities also work with their counterparts internationally in order to reclaim ancient treasures which have found their way onto the international market. In March, Switzerland finalized the return of 4,500 artefacts robbed from Italy, completing a process than had begun in 2001.

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READ MORE: Italy reclaims looted treasures from Swiss

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