Man who hid thousands of euros in fireplace sees it go up in smoke

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An Italian man, who had hidden around €20,000 (£17,700) worth of government bonds in his chimney over the years, saw his savings catch fire this week. Despite mild temperatures in Rome around Christmas, the man’s wife unwittingly lit a fire to keep the home warm. The man, named Mario, had not expected his wife to use the fireplace and was horrified to see his savings go up in flames.

Speaking to the Italian newspaper Il Messagero, Mario said he had hidden away the interest-bearing bonds for fear of burglars breaking into his apartment in Rome and stealing them. 

He lives on via dei Quattro Venti in the popular Monteverde district of the capital Rome.

The man said: “When I saw the flames I nearly passed out.

“I thought it would be a safe place where thieves would never think of looking.

“My wife didn’t know I’d hidden them there.”

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Mario said that he had always moved the money out of the fireplace during the winter when the couple had used the log flames to keep warm. 

The man said: “Each year before we use the fire during the winter, I used to move them.

“This time I didn’t manage to do it in time.”

Despite going up in smoke, the man is confident that his savings can be recovered.

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The man moved quickly to contact his brother, who works for the Italian post office – the body which issues the government bonds.

He said: “I contacted my brother who works at the post office and he told me that they can be recovered,”

Mario hopes that holding onto the serial numbers of the bonds means the post office may be able to reissue them.

Corriere della Sera, an Italian newspaper, commented on the farcical incident: “Having digested the shock, all that remains for the family is a tragicomic anecdote to tell their friends and relation.”


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It is not the first time that people’s attempts to save money in unusual places backfired in Italy.

In 2015, a businessman in Brescia tried to hide 250,000 euros from tax authorities.

He chose to stuff a quarter of a million euros in a large number of panettone Christmas cakes.

However, police grew suspicious and eventually uncovered the large sums of money when they spotted a huge number of the Christmas-time cake in the man’s boot at Easter. 

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