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Italian police bust gang selling fake ‘Super Tuscan’ wines

Police in Florence have seized some 4,000 bottles of counterfeit Tuscan wine destined for buyers abroad.

Italian police bust gang selling fake 'Super Tuscan' wines
Police in Florence with the haul of counterfeit wine. Photo: Guardia di Finanza/Italian Financial Police
Police from Italy's financial crimes unit uncovered an international gang believed to have been producing and selling convincing copies of one of Italy’s top wines, Bolgheri Sassicaia, which costs up to £320 a bottle.
 
As part of operation ‘Bad Tuscan’, police arrested two suspects, a father and son, and 11 more people are under investigation.
 
They also confiscated 700 cases of wine, for a total of 4,200 bottles. 
 
 
The 2010 and 2015 vintages, celebrated by Italian and international critics, were the most prevalent among the fakes..
 
The operation is believed to have been worth around 400,000 per month.
 
Investigators said the counterfeit wine had come not from Tuscany but from Sicily, while the bottles were from Turkey, and the labels and wooden boxes were made in Bulgaria.
 
 
The two arrested, who come from the Milan area, had paid meticulous attention to detail when producing the fakes.
 
They had been able to make a convincing copy of a special anti-counterfeiting hologram printed on the original wine labels, police said.
 
Even the tissue paper used in the packaging had the same weight, 22 grams, as the original one, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.
 
 
“The investigation began by chance when two members of the Guardia di Finanza [financial police], came upon a case of the fake wine on a street in Empoli, Tuscany, which had probably fallen from a truck,” Giuseppe Creazzo, chief prosecutor in Florence, said at a press conference.
 
“In the case was a note with two mobile phone numbers, which set off the investigation and led to the arrest of two individuals who had carried out this deception with meticulous care.”
 
“Fortunately, we managed to block the sale of this wine, one of the most famous in Italy and the world, on the international market.”
 
 
According to investigators, several customers, including some from China, Korea and Russia, had already ordered about 1,000 cases at about 70 percent less than the cost of the original.
 
One of the fraudsters intercepted by police reportedly said of the wine: “For goodness sake, it's even good, but I have to give it to people who don't know any better.”
 
 
Bolgheri Sassicaia, a bordeaux-style red wine made by one producer in the Tuscan Maremma, is considered by experts to be one of Italy’s – and the world’s – best wines.
 
A case of 1985 Sassicaia sold for $18,375 (£14,200) at auction at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in 2015.
 
Tuscan wines and other produce, and “Made in Italy” products in general, are commonly counterfeited both in Italy and beyond at a high cost to Italian businesses.

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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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