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FLORENCE

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man found dead in a hotel room in Florence was named by Italian media on Sunday as British former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.

The Ponte Vecchio medieval arch bridge over the Arno river in Florence, Tuscany.
The Ponte Vecchio medieval arch bridge over the Arno river in Florence, Tuscany. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP.

A man was found dead on Saturday in the Hotel Continentale after a woman he was with cried out for help, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Italian news outlets have identified the victim as Ricky Bibey, a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors and St Helens. Police have yet to confirm the dead man’s identity.

Super League tweeted it was “saddened to hear of the passing of Ricky Bibey”.

“We thank Ricky for his contributions to the game and send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends during this time”.

A maid rushed in to find the 43-year old woman bleeding heavily from serious injuries, and she was rushed to hospital, La Nazione daily newspaper said.

Bibey, 40, appeared to have died of a heart attack, it said.

Other guests at the Continentale, just next to the Tuscan city’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, reportedly heard shouts coming from the room.

Police seized objects including items possibly used in an erotic game, La Nazione said.

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TOURISM

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

Italian police fined a Californian man after he drove a rented Fiat Panda across Florence’s iconic - and pedestrianised - Ponte Vecchio on Thursday.

US tourist fined €500 for driving on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge

The 34-year-old man drove onto the bridge in the early afternoon of Thursday, January 26th, but was quickly stopped by police.

He reportedly told officers that he was looking for parking and wasn’t aware he was on the Ponte Vecchio, one of Florence’s most recognisable landmarks.

Completed in 1345, the bridge today is famously a narrow, cobbled walkway lined with small shops selling jewellery and souvenirs.

READ ALSO: US tourist charged with public indecency after posing naked at Amalfi Cathedral

The visitor, from California, had been planning on touring Florence by car (a rented Fiat Panda, to be exact). 

But whether he was trying to put one over local police or he just wasn’t aware of local traffic rules, his early-afternoon ride cost him dearly as he later received a total 500-euro fine for entering a pedestrian-only area and driving without an international driving permit. 

READ ALSO: ‘Americans can pay’: Italian minister says famous sites should hike entry fees

Florence recently announced a restoration project worth €2 million for the bridge – which was the only one in the city left standing after World War II.

Thursday’s incident was not the first time a tourist was caught driving across the Ponte Vecchio. 

In 2019, a 79-year-old German tourist drove onto the bridge in a rented Lamborghini sports car. After being stopped by local police, the man reportedly told officers he was “lost”.

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