Italian police bust neo-Nazi group who targeted foreigners

Italy's police on Monday dismantled a neo-Nazi group which had targeted migrants in a series of escalating raids lasting more than two years.

Italian police bust neo-Nazi group who targeted foreigners
Some of the propaganda material found in the gang's caravan hideout. Photo: Carabinieri La Spezia

The gang of six are suspected of several arson attacks across La Spezia in northern Italy, and are believed to have carried out nighttime raids targeting migrants.

Police discovered knives, other blade weapons, and instructions for creating explosives in the group's caravan hideaway when busted the cell early on Monday morning. They also found a large stash of neo-Nazi propaganda, including two swastika flags.

Six people, all aged in their early 20's, were identified and now face investigation for various crimes including arson, criminal damage, and racial violence.

For around two years, the group had carried out nighttime raids over a two-year period, targeting migrants as well as Catholic charity Caritas, which has been active in assisting migrants across the country.

They are suspected to be behind two arson attacks on Caritas containers used to collect second-hand clothes to be given to migrants, as well as several acts of vandalism, including damage to plaques commemmorating Italian partisans and the daubing of swastikas on the walls of a local Democratic Party office. The latter incident, dating back to May 2016, kicked off the investigation.

Police also said they believe the group may have carried out acts of violence against migrants which went unreported, as its members discussed attacks on migrants in a WhatsApp group which they also used to attract new recruits.


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.