The Italian Almanac

Trevi fountain

Tourist Booty

Two men were nabbed after taking an Anita Ekberg-like plunge into Rome's famed Trevi Fountain - in search of tourist booty rather than film immortality. The two Italians waded into the fountain at around ten thirty, fully clothed and carrying metal detectors, to the amazement of the many tourists still in the square at that time of night.

The city cops who guard the fountain, turning a blind eye to the coin-throwing which is officially banned, were less impressed. The police closed in to nab the raiders but the pair began to struggle violently. One managed to wriggle out of a policeman's grasp - but promptly threw himself back into the fountain. Coming to his senses, he dashed off down a nearby alleybut was caught by a back-up patrol.

The men, aged 28 and 49, turned out their pockets to reveal a rich haul of the coins tourists throw into the Trevi's waters, making the traditional wish to return to the Eternal City. The older man, who turned out to have a record for petty theft, had only managed to pick up 33 coins but his more energetic companion handed over a booty of 103 euros and 119 foreign coins.

The two were fined on a Rome law which bans bathing in public fountains.