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CRIME

Brazilian suspected of murdering Italian friend

A Brazilian woman has been named a suspect in the murder of her Italian friend, whose body was found on a beach in Brazil on Christmas Day.

Brazilian suspected of murdering Italian friend
Gaia Molinari's body was found by tourists in Jericoacoara, north-east Brazil. Jericoacoara photo: Shutterstock

Miriam Franca, from Rio de Janeiro, is accused of murdering 29-year-old Gaia Molinari as they holidayed in Brazil’s north-east Ceará state.

The Brazilian’s arrest came after investigators found contradictions in her testimony, Rai New reported on Monday.

Molinari’s body was found by tourists in the undergrowth of a seaside nature reserve in Jericoacoara. She was reportedly strangled to death, although media reports said she was also hit over the head with a rock.

Before Franca was arrested two Brazilian men and a foreigner were at first investigated over the murder.

Molinari, originally from Piacenza, had moved to Brazil to teach English in São Paulo, before relocating to Fortaleza, around 300km away from where her body was found.

“Gaia was always travelling around the world, first to study, then to work, and in the end to do this humanitarian volunteering which had become her life’s cause,” her mother Valentina Carraro was quoted as saying.

“We spoke the day before she died…she told me about the wonderful place she found herself in. She wanted me to open a B&B with her and imagined bringing her grandfather, my father, to cook and her little brother to do windsurfing,” Carraro said.

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ROME

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.

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