Police close two public schools over mafia links

Italian police on Friday seized two public schools in Calabria, southern Italy as part of an anti-mafia raid.

Police close two public schools over mafia links
File photo of one of the towns in the Reggio Calabria region: Mario Laporta/AFP

Military police cordoned off two of Locri's public schools – the State Institute of Art and the State Professional Institute for Industry and Craftsmanship – as part of the sting. 

The schools, which have a combined total of around 800 students, were “totally illegal”, police said, lacking proper documentation or permits.

It is not yet clear when or whether the schools will reopen, as that decision will depend on safety and security checks ordered by the public prosecutor.

Further anti-mafia raids were carried out on private residences, and police seized assets worth 12 million euros.

In total, 15 people were charged, issued with arrest warrants, or placed under house arrest, with one suspect jailed.

The suspects include employees at local authorities in the towns of Locri and Reggio Calabria, as well as businessmen and employees of the companies which built the two schools.

The accusations range from fraud to coercion and abuse of office, all of which are aggravated due to the connection with organized crime groups.

READ ALSO: Thousands march in anti-mafia protests across Italy

Thousands march in anti-mafia protests across Italy
Photo: Damien Meyers/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.