Three inmates used knotted bedsheets to escape Florence jail

Three inmates of Florence's Sollicciano prison, who have been described as dangerous, escaped on Monday night using bedsheets, prompting criticism of security and maintenance at Italy's prisons.

Three inmates used knotted bedsheets to escape Florence jail
File photo of an Italian prison cell: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The men, who were part of a Tuscan gang known for jewellery thefts, were able to break the bars on the cell windows – possibly using saws. They then used sheets to climb down the wall at about 8pm on Monday.

At that point they were able to make a run for it, because the outer wall of the institution had collapsed some months ago, with no other barrier put in its place.

In Italy, “prison escapes are too frequent and too easy to get away with,” the prison workers' union Uilpa said on Tuesday, noting that staff at Sollicciano had notified authorities of the wall collapse last July, but nothing had been done.

“In Florence, the labour union has been denouncing the precariousness of this structure and the lack of necessary maintenance for a long time,” said Angelo Urso, Uilpa's general secretary. “It would also be easy now to say 'we told you so!' but we're not interested in that; rather, we want to point the finger at those who continue to deplete prison staff.”  

Urso said that the past three years had seen reductions in staff numbers and a threefold rise in crimes, vandalism and breaches of discipline.

Another trade union for prison workers, Sappe, shared photos of the escapees, who have been named as Bordeianu Costel, Ciocan Danut Costeu e Donciu Costantin Catalin. 

Their escape comes several moths after a similar breakout from Rome's Rebibbia prison, which saw three prisoners, including a convicted murderer, use knotted bedsheets to escape. In December, an investigation was opened into fourteen of the prison's staff for security breaches thought to have enabled the escape.

The employees were accused of failing to learn lessons from the February 2016 escape of another convicted killer and his fellow inmate from Rebibbia, who used the same technique.

And in 2014, a prisoner in Sicily broke the bars of his cell at Pagliarelli prison and climbed down the wall on a rope of knotted sheets. The same man had also managed to escape from a prison in Parma a year earlier.

Road blocks are in place to try to track down the Florence escapees, and police are also using sniffer dogs in the manhunt.

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Prisoners play table football at Regina Coeli prison in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP



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.