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Looted artefacts stashed by British thief restored to Italy

Italian and Swiss police have recovered priceless archaeological artefacts stolen from Italy and stored by a notorious British antiquities dealer, the culture ministry said on Tuesday.

Looted artefacts stashed by British thief restored to Italy
Italy has recovered crates of stolen artefacts. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The haul, worth nine million euros ($10 million), was discovered in 2014 in a storage unit at the Geneva Freeport rented by Britain's disgraced Robin Symes, a giant in the illegal antiquities trade with ties to Italian tomb raiders.
   
“Forty-five crates containing tens of thousands of archaeological relics of extraordinary quality” were returned to Rome in January, said Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, as they were unveiled to the press for the first time.
   
The booty included Etruscan painted sarcophagi representing human figures, a Roman sarcophagus, marble statues of animals and pieces of the floor and walls of a temple, all dating to between the 7th century BC and 2nd century AD.


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
   
“They were stolen from digs in Sicily, Puglia, Campania and Calabria in the1970s and 80s,” said prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo, adding that the loot had been smuggled into the Freeport decades ago, where it lay hidden.
   
Italian sleuths tracked the artefacts after seizing incriminating papers from an art smuggler, and they were discovered during a joint sting with Swiss police on Symes's storage unit.
   
Capaldo said the plot had been to restore the statues, tiles and sarcophaguses and sell them on to clients in Japan, Germany and other countries under false papers.
   
“This is one of the most important recoveries of the last few decades,” Franceschini said, adding that the antiquities would be restored and returned to the regions across southern Italy from which they were stolen.
 

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TOURISM

The new guide to Florence’s Uffizi Galleries – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Florence's world-famous galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

The new guide to Florence's Uffizi Galleries - showing only the nudes
Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is the most famous work included in a controversial new guide to the Uffizi Galleries. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The online guide to the gallieries is produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

Part of the site’s Classic Nudes series of ‘erotic’ guides to some of the world’s most renowned museums, the guide for the Uffizi lists 21 artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and the location of each piece within the galleries.

“The Uffizi Gallery is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. So it’s no wonder it has such a large collection of artwork from the era. But what you may find surprising is the sheer volume and variety of naked bodies rendered in paint, bronze and marble in this marvelous museum,” writes Pornhub.

Among the works featured are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485) and the Roman statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, dating from the 1st Century.

The guide also includes the Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538), which it calls “kinky”, and Painting and Poetry by Francesco Furini (1626), which is described as featuring “two ridiculously hot babes who just so happen to be making out”.

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Bosses at the Uffizi were not amused at the gallery’s inclusion in Pornhub’s series and have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile in Paris, the Louvre’s management has said only that it is ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay remained silent on the subject.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

The Uffizi does, however, provide a great day out for all the family and contains a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present it is operating with reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

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