Could YOU spot a superfake? They’re the new breed of designer rip-offs


Supple leather, gleaming clasps — not to mention very recognisable logos. A designer bag is the must-have finishing touch to any discerning fashionista’s outfit, and often the one big ‘investment piece’ women may have in their wardrobe.

There’s just one snag. For chic as these Chanel, Prada and Gucci offerings are, anyone buying them could well be purchasing a counterfeit and putting money in the pockets of ruthless criminal gangs.

Fraudsters have upped their game with a booming market in ‘superfakes’ — handbags so convincing it can take a detailed examination from an expert to spot them. Logos are carefully copied, the same materials used and they may also come with similar luxurious linings, date stamps and even serial numbers.

But while that bag may look good on your arm, there is a price to be paid. Experts warn that superfakes are likely to made in the Far East, Italy and Turkey by workers — sometimes children — on very poor pay.

We asked handbag expert Claudia Valentin, of poshbagslondon.com, which authenticates and sells designer bags, to examine eight lookalike bags and reveal how not to be fooled. 

GUCCI MARMONT VELVET SHOULDER BAG 

ORIGINAL: £1,510

FAKE: £196

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £1,314

FAKE Gucci Marmont velvet shoulder bag

REAL Gucci Marmont velvet shoulder bag (left) and fake (right)

Both bags are made from plush purple velvet, moulded into an elegant chevron pattern, with substantial shoulder chains and identical Gucci monograms.

But if you want to keep up the illusion, keep your bag firmly shut, says Claudia.

‘Counterfeiters tend to put the most time and effort into the outside of the bag and skimp on the lining,’ she says. ‘In a real Gucci, this would be exquisitely crafted. But this bag has a cheap lining that is loose and baggy.’ She says a trained eye would also spot another giveaway in the spacing of the chevron designs. In the real bag, the chevron lines are spaced at different distances. On the fake, they are parallel.

And fake handbags can even sound different. ‘If you snap the clasp shut, you get a satisfying click because it’s substantial and well-made of a heavy metal.

‘On fakes, sometimes there’s more of a squeaky sound.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘This is convincing — as long as you don’t open your bag and no one looks too closely.’8/10

PRADA SAFFIANO TOTE BAG

ORIGINAL: £2,113

FAKE: £25

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £2,088

REAL PRADA SAFFIANO TOTE BAG

FAKE PRADA SAFFIANO TOTE BAG

REAL PRADA SAFFIANO TOTE BAG (left) and FAKE (right)

From a distance, this bright red tote, bought on a stall at London’s Camden Market, looks attractive enough, and the shape and size are close to the original.

‘However, those in the know would spot that on a real Saffiano, the triangle with the Prada name on it is made of leather, which is the same colour as the bag,’ says Claudia. ‘As this is fake, they have used a bulkier, raised, black version.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘This is a decent copy. But the fake logo is an instant giveaway.’6/10

YVES SAINT LAURENT CROSS-BODY BAG

ORIGINAL: £780

FAKE: £25

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £755

REAL YVES SAINT LAURENT CROSS-BODY BAG

FAKE YVES SAINT LAURENT CROSS-BODY BAG

REAL YVES SAINT LAURENT CROSS-BODY BAG (left) and FAKE (right)

While this replica clutch bag is a similar shape and size, the difference in the logo —which says Y8L, not YSL — is a giveaway.

Claudia says the change was probably so the manufacturer could attempt to argue it is not infringing copyright.

‘If you’re paying this much for a handbag, it should sit nicely on a flat surface,’ she says. ‘But if you put a fake and an original side by side, the fake would fall over because all the weights are wrong.

‘The fakes are not as well constructed and the sides don’t keep their shape as well. In a real bag, the leather edges are rounded off. In fake ones they often have a rubbery seal and this black colour can spill over.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘No one will be fooled by this bag.’ 2/10

REAL: Model Lily Donaldson carries a Hermes Birkin

REAL: Model Lily Donaldson carries a Hermes Birkin

HERMES BIRKIN 

ORIGINAL: £7,000

FAKE: £150

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £6,850

Both the real and the fake were made of calf leather, but the grain on the counterfeit was rougher. The fake’s handles are also a different shape and not as well made.

‘On a real Hermes bag, the hardware is either gold or palladium-plated, which looks like white gold,’ says Claudia. ‘On this fake, it’s just an ordinary metal.

‘Real Birkins are made by one artisan working on that one item for 20 hours. The stitching on the fake is more regular because it’s done by machine.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘I’ve been shown better fake Birkins than this one.’2/10

FAKE HERMES BIRKIN: Both the real and the fake were made of calf leather, but the grain on the counterfeit was rougher

FAKE HERMES BIRKIN: Both the real and the fake were made of calf leather, but the grain on the counterfeit was rougher

CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP BAG

ORIGINAL: £2,669

FAKE: £24.99

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £2,644

REAL CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP BAG

FAKE CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP BAG

REAL CHANEL CLASSIC FLAP BAG (left) and FAKE (right)

while this fake mimics the quilted design and chain shoulder strap, the counterfeiters have altered the logo — joining up the signature double CC lock to form two Os.

‘Changing the logo means the bag will be just different enough to be allowed to be sold on sites like Amazon, where this one was bought,’ explains Claudia. Given the low price, the stitching and quality are good. However, one key difference is the fake is a man-made material, rather than calf, lamb or goat skin.

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘The logo means that you won’t fool anyone who knows the first thing about designer handbags for more than a millisecond.’ 4/10

LOUIS VUITTON KEEPALL

ORIGINAL: £1,160

FAKE: £100

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £1,060

REAL LOUIS VUITTON KEEPALL £1,500, (left), WITH FAKE, £100, (right)

REAL LOUIS VUITTON KEEPALL £1,500, (left), WITH FAKE, £100, (right)

This is an attempt to copy the LV Keepall — though it doesn’t use its classic monogrammed canvas fabric. The colour of the leather handles, which should be tan, is too pale and the fakers have missed one of the original’s interior pockets.

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘The makers of this bag have managed to keep the patterns symmetrical. However, all the attention has gone on the outside.’ 7/10

STELLA McCARTNEY FALABELLA SHOULDER BAG

ORIGINAL: £340

FAKE: £10

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £330

REAL STELLA MCCARTNEY FALABELLA SHOULDER BAG

FAKE STELLA MCCARTNEY FALABELLA SHOULDER BAG

REAL STELLA MCCARTNEY FALABELLA SHOULDER BAG (left) and FAKE (right)

With its super-soft fabric and chain-link strap, Stella McCartney’s Falabella bag is a celebrity favourite.

This is a pale imitation. Claudia says: ‘The fact that the fake is not made of real python is not a problem because as a vegetarian, Stella uses no real leather or fur. However the weaker fabric also means the bag does not maintain its shape.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘This fake has used Stella’s styling to make a very distinctive statement, but there is none of the craftsmanship.’ 2/10

GUCCI SOHO DISCO BAG

ORIGINAL: £805

FAKE: £5

PRICE DIFFERENCE: £800

REAL GUCCI SOHO DISCO BAG

FAKE GUCCI SOHO DISCO BAG

REAL GUCCI SOHO DISCO BAG (left) and FAKE (right)

At first glance, Claudia says the Gucci monogram on this fake, bought on a market stall in the Far East, is well stitched. But look more closely and the logo is more oval than it should be.

It is also stitched in a different colour thread.

Another giveaway of counterfeit bags is the hardware in the chains. ‘Many real designer bags have gold- or palladium-plated chains so they are more of a gold colour,’ says Claudia.

‘But the hardware here is yellowy.’

CLAUDIA’S VERDICT: ‘For its price this may be good, but that doesn’t take into account the human price of counterfeits.’ 8/10 

Evidence suggests even those with mild covid-19 symptoms can be left with long-term damage to organs


The vast majority of the tens of thousands of patients in the UK who have tested positive for Covid-19 will be counting their lucky stars that they have had only a mild encounter with the deadly virus — but they may not be able to relax just yet.

There is growing evidence from China, where the virus originated, and from Italy, the first European country to report cases, that patients diagnosed with even a mild case of Covid-19 may be left struggling with long-term health problems long after the virus has left their bodies.

‘What we have been seeing in hospitals is the tip of the iceberg,’ Professor Roberto Pedretti, head of cardiology at the Clinical Scientific Institute in Pavia, Italy, told Good Health.

‘Our focus at the moment is treating patients at the acute stage to help them recover from Covid-19. But we also need to consider the future health impacts of the virus.’

One of these is potential long-term lung damage, which Professor Pedretti fears is going to leave health services worldwide struggling to cope with increasing numbers of Covid-19 survivors who are disabled by reduced lung capacity and require extensive rehabilitation to restore their quality of life.

Patients diagnosed with even a mild case of Covid-19 may be left struggling with long-term health problems long after the virus has left their bodies

In severe cases, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19 infection) gets deep into the lungs, inflaming the tiny air sacs and filling them with fluid. This prevents the air sacs doing their job of transferring oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream and taking carbon dioxide out.

This is pneumonia, which in many cases of Covid-19 has been found to affect both lungs. As it progresses, patients struggle to breathe, leading to the potentially fatal condition acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) — where the lungs become severely inflamed.

Many patients affected are unable to breathe unassisted and need to be put on a ventilator.

Even when Covid-19 patients recover from ARDS, they may be left with pulmonary fibrosis — scarring of the lung tissue, which can lead to increasing breathlessness.

Several recent studies have highlighted the growing evidence that Covid-19 causes fibrosis. A research paper published in a Chinese journal in March reported that ‘extensive’ evidence suggests that ‘pulmonary fibrosis may be one of the major [long-term] complications in Covid-19 patients’.

This echoes the findings of a study in Wuhan, China — ground zero for the coronavirus — where researchers analysed the CT scans of 81 patients with Covid-19 and found signs of fibrosis even in those who had had no symptoms, such as a cough or a high temperature (but who had tested positive for the disease).

In the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases in April, researchers said it was unclear if these lung changes were ‘irreversible’.

NOT JUST A RISK FOR HOSPITAL PATIENTS

Health authorities in Hong Kong revealed in March that among the first dozen patients who had been discharged from hospital after treatment for severe Covid-19, 25 per cent were still suffering from shortness of breath, and ‘gasping’ when walking a bit more quickly.

Despite apparent recovery, ‘some patients might have a drop of around 20 to 30 per cent in lung function’, says Dr Owen Tsang Tak-yin, medical director of the Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong.

The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has warned that Covid patients could be left with ‘extreme tiredness and shortness of breath for several months’.

Medical staff transfer a patient of a highly suspected case of a new coronavirus at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong, China January 22, 2020

Medical staff transfer a patient of a highly suspected case of a new coronavirus at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong, China January 22, 2020

Some experts believe that even those who don’t require hospital admission could be affected. The chairman of the Dutch Association of Physicians in Chest Medicine and Tuberculosis warned that thousands of people in the Netherlands who recovered from Covid-19 may be left with permanent damage to their lungs, adding that while many who tested positive weren’t ill enough to need hospital care, it was still possible for them to suffer permanent problems.

One theory is that fibrosis occurs as the virus disrupts the wound-healing process. This is what occurred with the SARS coronavirus, the forerunner of Covid-19, according to a paper published in the Journal of Virology in 2017.

Research published in the journal Thorax in 2005 found that six months on, SARS survivors’ lung function ‘was considerably lower than that of a normal population’.Part of the problem is the length of time some patients undergo invasive ventilation in intensive care, says Ema Swingwood, chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care.

Those on a ventilator need it for ‘much longer’ than normal, she says — ‘up to 14 days or more’. Lengthy exposure to high levels of dehumidified oxygen delivered by ventilation can dry out and damage the mucociliary escalator, the mucus and microscopic ‘hairs’ that help transport secretions and debris up and out of the airway. Oxygen delivered non-invasively, through masks or nasal tubes, can have the same effect if used for prolonged periods.

Ema says that ‘we are seeing a group of patients left with extreme breathlessness and fatigue’.

EVEN FIT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AFFECTED

It is not simply that people in poor health before getting Covid-19 suffer worse. ‘We’re seeing patients we’d never normally expect to see at all who are totally fit and well and have amazing exercise capacity and lung function, and yet they are still suffering lung problems,’ says Ema.

How much scarring patients develop — and how well the lung recovers — ‘is very difficult to know at the moment’, says Dr Noel Baxter, a GP and a medical adviser to Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation.

‘But there are likely to be some people who end up with some sort of long-term problem’.

So does the virus affect our eyes? 

 By Alice Jaffe

THE Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings last week claimed he had travelled with his family to Barnard Castle in County Durham ‘to see if I could drive safely’. His explanation was that he had thought his vision might have been affected by coronavirus.

Eye symptoms are recognised as a possible symptom of the disease — conjunctivitis, sticky eyes and red eyes have been reported in around a third of patients according to a small study in Wuhan, China, published in March.

Conjunctivitis is also included as a less common symptom in the World Health Organisation’s official list. But could Covid-19 affect vision? Robert MacLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at Oxford University, says: ‘You would be expected to make a full recovery from the eye problems reported so far, although it may cause temporary difficulties such as blurred vision.’

The Royal National Institute Of Blind People says: ‘There is no evidence of sight loss caused directly by the virus,’ but noted ‘research is being carried out into some very rare cases that appear to be secondary to other complications such as blood clots caused by the virus’.    

The British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK have launched the Post-Covid Hub, a website where patients can be put in direct contact with clinicians.

The advice from the foundation for those affected includes techniques for coping with breathlessness and tips on breaking ‘unhelpful breathing habits’ that can make the problem worse.

For instance, people tend to breathe faster automatically when they feel breathless, and end up using the top of their chest to breathe instead of the whole of the lungs. But this is more tiring for the muscles. The foundation’s advice on how to breathe more effectively can be accessed through the Post-Covid Hub website. Rehabilitation with a tailored programme of exercise for patients who have had Covid-19 will be essential, particularly for patients who have been in intensive care.

But a wider group of people may need help. Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, has predicted that ‘in the coming weeks and months, there will be a tidal wave of rehabilitation need’.

Professor Pedretti has begun trials of a potential new rehabilitation treatment for Covid-19 patients unable to exercise enough to restore lung capacity.

The trial will use ReOxy machines, which provide interval hypoxic-hyperoxic treatment (IHHT). This has been used previously to boost fitness in heart patients.

It involves using an alternating mixture of reduced, then either enriched or normal levels of oxygen, administered through a face mask. Intermittently depriving the body of normal levels of oxygen brings about cell changes at a molecular level that make the cardiovascular system more efficient at transporting oxygen.

Research published in the journal High Altitude Medicine & Biology in 2018 found that five weeks of IHHT training was as effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness in patients as an eight-week conventional exercise programme.

HOW THE VIRUS CAN HARM THE HEART

Evidence is emerging that in some cases the virus may affect the brain, causing seizures and stroke, as well as harming the liver, kidneys, heart and blood vessels.

A paper in the journal JAMA Cardiology in March reported that one in five of 416 Covid-19 patients hospitalised in Wuhan, China, had suffered heart damage. The researchers also found problems could occur even in those without underlying heart problems.

Another study from Wuhan published in February noted that of 36 patients transferred to intensive care, 16 (44.4 per cent) were suffering from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

The heart problems are thought to occur as a result of the virus triggering a ‘cytokine storm’, where the immune system overreacts to the infection, leading to inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis).

As a result, the heart pumps more weakly, causing symptoms such as breathlessness. Myocarditis can also affect the heart’s electrical system, leading to heart rhythm problems.

‘Covid-19 can affect the cardiovascular system through multiple pathways,’ says Dr Mohammad Madjid, a cardiologist at the University of Texas.

‘The virus may directly affect the heart muscle, which may not work as strongly as it should, causing the heart rhythm to become irregular.’

In severe cases, he adds, there is a high risk of developing clots, which can cause problems in the heart or lungs and may even lead to a stroke.

Yuchi Han, an associate professor of medicine and radiology and director of cardiac MRI at the Perelman Centre for Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says that people with heart and vascular conditions seem to have more severe damage from the infection.

Dr Han co-authored research published in the journal Heart in April, which reviewed a series of clinical reports from around the world and concluded that damage to heart muscles ‘is common in Covid-19 and portends a worse prognosis’.

But people with no history of heart problems appear to be equally vulnerable. He says: ‘The inflammation that occurs in the heart is not limited to people who have heart or vascular disease and could occur in anyone. However, we don’t yet know why in people who do not have risk factors some experience severe disease and others don’t.’

Such is the feared scale of the heart problems associated with the virus that on April 23 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued urgent guidelines ‘to help healthcare professionals who are not cardiology specialists identify and treat acute myocardial injury and its cardiac complications in adults with known or suspected Covid-19 but without known pre-existing cardiovascular disease’.

In the first week of the pandemic, Professor Nicholas Hart — who treated Boris Johnson during his battle with Covid-19 in St Thomas’ Hospital, London — warned that many patients will emerge from the shadow of the immediate threat of the disease only to face a range of long-term problems.

The expert in respiratory and critical care medicine tweeted: ‘Covid-19 is this generation’s polio.’

It was a stark prediction that is now appearing to be worryingly accurate.

SEE the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Post-Covid-19 Hub at post-covid.org.uk. 

Super-fit mum left at risk of having a heart transplant

Amanda Cable, 51, a journalist, lives in Blackheath, South-East London

Amanda Cable, 51, a journalist, lives in Blackheath, South-East London

Amanda Cable, 51, a journalist, lives in Blackheath, South-East London, with husband Ray, 51, a photographer, and their three children Ruby, 21, and twins Charlie and Archie, 18.

By Amanda Cable for The Daily Mail 

A few days ago, I climbed the stairs in my house, as I have done countless times over the years. When I reached the top — after albeit painfully slow progress — I paused to reflect on my ‘achievement’. The enormity of how life had changed hit me, and I felt tearful.

It’s been ten weeks since I fell ill with what at first appeared to be mild coronavirus. Since then, I’ve struggled to walk a few steps, let alone tackle the stairs. I’ve spent most of my time in bed and any trips downstairs have meant lengthy rests mid-flight.

Scaling the 15 steps has become such a symbol of recovery that my cardiologist has told me to make it a measure of my improvement. I was fit and well before I became ill, but I’ve been warned that as a result of the virus, my health may never recover. I now have heart and lung damage and I’ve been warned I may one day need a pacemaker or, if I’m really unlucky, a heart transplant.

I fell ill on Friday, March 20, when Covid-19 felt like a remote nightmare. We’d all had warnings from Spain and Italy, but like so many others, I watched horrific footage on the news and tried to believe it wouldn’t hit the UK as hard.

In truth, I thought I had little to fear. On that day, I went on a three-mile dog walk with Ray and felt unusually breathless.

On the Monday, I woke with a headache, fever and a sore throat. I wouldn’t have even known it was Covid-19, save for my strangely swollen left eye — which I’d heard was a symptom. I self-isolated at home.

'I fell ill on Friday, March 20, when Covid-19 felt like a remote nightmare.'

‘I fell ill on Friday, March 20, when Covid-19 felt like a remote nightmare.’

As the days continued, I had mild muscle ache, shivers and a slightly heavy chest. I remarked happily on Facebook, ‘It’s very mild — I’ve been lucky.’

But eight days after my first symptoms, my chest felt heavy and I struggled to breathe. Soon after, on the advice of NHS 111, I went to hospital.

At A&E at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, a doctor said my symptoms were so textbook — they now included a black ‘dot’ on my toe — there was no point testing for the virus, but the doctor did order an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the heart’s electrical activity.

The technician checked the printed trace, then re-did the test. He sent me straight back to the doctor, who explained it was so erratic I was possibly having a heart attack.

I was rushed for X-rays. A doctor explained I wasn’t having a heart attack, Covid-19 had caused inflammation to my heart and lungs. I was the third patient that day with similar symptoms. Each had been under 60, active and fit. I was sent home on strict bed rest — and warned movement could cause more damage to my weakened heart muscle, and that the scarring to my lungs may be permanent.

The change in my health has been difficult to grasp. At times, my breathing has been so laboured I have been utterly convinced I would die. At one point, instead of planning my next birthday, I planned my funeral with my husband.

As I fought for every breath, I kept thinking of the years I would miss. My sons going to university. My daughter marrying, and having children. It felt like my entire life and future had been taken so fast.

I’ve since seen two more cardiologists and after an ECG and echocardiogram — where sound waves create moving images of the heart — I have been told the inflammation to my heart has progressed to myocarditis, severe inflammation of the heart muscle.

It affects the heart’s electrical system and reduces its ability to pump. It’s now associated with Covid-19 and can lead to heart failure, heart attack, stroke, or sudden death.

I’m assured that in many cases myocarditis improves on its own. Some cases require medication, surgical treatment — for instance, a pacemaker — and in rare cases, heart transplant. And yes, there’s a chance that could be me.

So here I am all these weeks later hoping my heart mends and trying to rebuild my fitness. The scarring to my lungs makes breathing painful and stiff. I await an MRI scan to look for signs of permanent damage. My breathlessness affects my ability to talk, and a sore throat limits conversation.

There are other knock-on effects, too. A few weeks ago, I started having strange stabbing pains in my left leg, so I’d dramatically collapse, clasping my thigh, like a cowboy who had been shot.

Ocean’s Eleven-style gang member who stole £4m gems from Mayfair jewellers jailed for four years


A gang member who stole £4million worth of gems from a Mayfair jewellers in one of the biggest shoplifting thefts in British criminal history has been jailed for nearly four years.

Mickael Jovanovic was part of a crack team who tricked staff at Boodles into handing over precious jewels then used sleight of hand to swap the diamonds for pebbles.

The 27-year-old and his accomplices then fled to their native France within hours of the heist in 2016, and evaded capture until this year.

Following an international manhunt, Jovanovic was extradited from Italy and arrested in January and charged the same day with conspiracy to steal.

Police likened the ‘truly audacious crime’ to daring thefts portrayed in Hollywood movies.

Mickael Jovanovic was part of a crack team of criminals who tricked staff at Boodles into handing over £4million worth of jewels. The 27-year-old, from Le Blanc-Mesnil in France, was jailed for three years and eight months

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds – including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m.

Boodles received a phone call stating that the buyers’ representative, a gemmologist named ‘Anna’, would be attending the Mayfair shop under the pretence of appraising the diamonds. 

Boodles’ gemmologist Emma Barton met with ‘Anna’ who was taken to the basement of the jewellery store for a viewing on March 10.

Prosecutor Philip Stott told Southwark Crown Court how ‘Anna’ entered Boodles to view the diamonds and waited for a diversional telephone call from one of her accomplices.

She swapped the gems for pebbles and slipped the stones into pre-cut tissue paper, placing them inside opaque boxes she had brought with her.

The padlocked bag containing the ‘diamonds’ was then returned to the safe. 

After leaving the shop, Anna met up with her associates on the street and handed the diamonds over before the group split up.

Within three hours of the theft, they had all returned to France either by train or car.

The following day, the Boodles director spoke with the fake buyer, who confirmed the money would be transferred.

But suspicious staff x-rayed the bag then opened it to discover they had been left with pebbles, the court heard.

Jovanovic and another man, Christophe Stankovic, had carried out surveillance on Boodles and were loitering nearby on the day of the theft.

Two women had acted as lookouts for ‘Anna’ while a third woman was standing by with a change of clothes at a pub near Victoria Station.

Mr Stott said the 2016 theft was ‘of the highest possible sophistication, planning, risk, and reward’, adding it is thought to be the largest value single incident of shoplifting in British criminal history. 

Flying Squad detectives launched an investigation and retraced the group’s movements across London as they plotted the heist.

The gang had used minicabs in a bid to hide their movements but their departure from the country was quickly established.

Their images were circulated to other police forces before Jovanovic was extradited from Italy in January and arrested. He was charged the same day and admitted conspiracy to steal.

Jovanovic, of Le Blanc-Mesnil, a suburb in north eastern Paris, was jailed for three years and eight months’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court.

Stankovic was caught and jailed in 2016.

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds - including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds – including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m

Detective Constable William Man said: ‘This was a well organised theft which evolved over a number of weeks both in London and on the continent

‘Like the plot of a film, this was a truly audacious crime. They stole the diamonds and fled in a matter of hours. However, they left behind a trail of evidence which led us to where they were staying, and the Citroen they had hired in Paris.

‘As a result of piecing together all of the bits of information, we knew it was only a matter of time before arrests were made.

‘And whilst it has taken four years, this case does highlight that we won’t give up. We still remain determined to identify all of those involved.’  

Ocean’s Eleven-style gang member who stole £4m gems from Mayfair jewellers jailed for four years


A gang member who stole £4million worth of gems from a Mayfair jewellers in one of the biggest shoplifting thefts in British criminal history has been jailed for nearly four years.

Mickael Jovanovic was part of a crack team who tricked staff at Boodles into handing over precious jewels then used sleight of hand to swap the diamonds for pebbles.

The 27-year-old and his accomplices then fled to their native France within hours of the heist in 2016, and evaded capture until this year.

Following an international manhunt, Jovanovic was extradited from Italy and arrested in January and charged the same day with conspiracy to steal.

Police likened the ‘truly audacious crime’ to daring thefts portrayed in Hollywood movies.

Mickael Jovanovic was part of a crack team of criminals who tricked staff at Boodles into handing over £4million worth of jewels. The 27-year-old, from Le Blanc-Mesnil in France, was jailed for three years and eight months

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds – including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m.

Boodles received a phone call stating that the buyers’ representative, a gemmologist named ‘Anna’, would be attending the Mayfair shop under the pretence of appraising the diamonds. 

Boodles’ gemmologist Emma Barton met with ‘Anna’ who was taken to the basement of the jewellery store for a viewing on March 10.

Prosecutor Philip Stott told Southwark Crown Court how ‘Anna’ entered Boodles to view the diamonds and waited for a diversional telephone call from one of her accomplices.

She swapped the gems for pebbles and slipped the stones into pre-cut tissue paper, placing them inside opaque boxes she had brought with her.

The padlocked bag containing the ‘diamonds’ was then returned to the safe. 

After leaving the shop, Anna met up with her associates on the street and handed the diamonds over before the group split up.

Within three hours of the theft, they had all returned to France either by train or car.

The following day, the Boodles director spoke with the fake buyer, who confirmed the money would be transferred.

But suspicious staff x-rayed the bag then opened it to discover they had been left with pebbles, the court heard.

Jovanovic and another man, Christophe Stankovic, had carried out surveillance on Boodles and were loitering nearby on the day of the theft.

Two women had acted as lookouts for ‘Anna’ while a third woman was standing by with a change of clothes at a pub near Victoria Station.

Mr Stott said the 2016 theft was ‘of the highest possible sophistication, planning, risk, and reward’, adding it is thought to be the largest value single incident of shoplifting in British criminal history. 

Flying Squad detectives launched an investigation and retraced the group’s movements across London as they plotted the heist.

The gang had used minicabs in a bid to hide their movements but their departure from the country was quickly established.

Their images were circulated to other police forces before Jovanovic was extradited from Italy in January and arrested. He was charged the same day and admitted conspiracy to steal.

Jovanovic, of Le Blanc-Mesnil, a suburb in north eastern Paris, was jailed for three years and eight months’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court.

Stankovic was caught and jailed in 2016.

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds - including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m

A Boodles director was invited to a meeting in Monaco in March 2016 by members of the group posing as Russian businessmen, who struck a deal to buy seven diamonds – including a heart-shaped jewel worth £2.2m

Detective Constable William Man said: ‘This was a well organised theft which evolved over a number of weeks both in London and on the continent

‘Like the plot of a film, this was a truly audacious crime. They stole the diamonds and fled in a matter of hours. However, they left behind a trail of evidence which led us to where they were staying, and the Citroen they had hired in Paris.

‘As a result of piecing together all of the bits of information, we knew it was only a matter of time before arrests were made.

‘And whilst it has taken four years, this case does highlight that we won’t give up. We still remain determined to identify all of those involved.’  

How to explore the world from home during coronavirus lockdown including virtual cliff-diving


The Armchair Traveller reveals how to explore the world from home: Discover breathtaking cliff-diving locations and Europe’s best cycle tours

  • Red Bull’s YouTube channel has a 20-minute tour of stunning cliff-diving spots
  • Bike firm Freewheel Holidays holds weekly webinars about cycle tours in Europe 
  • Access a playlist of Portuguese-themed music heard in five-star therapy rooms  

From cliff-diving to cycle holidays and even five-star spas, Neil Simpson reveals how you can still explore the world from home during lockdown.

If you have a head for heights, take a 20-minute tour of some of the world’s most stunning coastlines and paradise islands in the Eleven Breath-taking Cliff Diving Locations travelogue on Red Bull’s official YouTube channel.

Cliff divers, including Britain’s Blake Aldridge, reveal their favourite places, from the ‘lost world’ of Palawan Island in the Philippines to the craggy coastlines and sparkling waters of Mexico, Beirut, the Azores, Denmark, Italy and more. Other videos on the channel include mini-travel guides filmed by people lucky enough to make a living skiing, surfing, climbing or kayaking amid some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.

Flight of fancy: Blake Aldridge leaps for glory during the Red Bull cliff-diving world series event at Wadi Shab, Oman

There’s more sporty inspiration in weekly webinars held on Zoom by bike firm Freewheel Holidays. In each chat, staff highlight different cycle tours in Europe and beyond. Start times and log-in links are at freewheelholidays.co.uk – the next talk describes the Danube Cycle Path and bike trips to Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria.

Other trips include small group tours along the coast of Croatia, ‘bike and barge’ trips in Provence and e-bike holidays through a ‘secret gorge’ in Poland.

If that sounds a bit exhausting, you may prefer to focus on the best places to relax after some post-lockdown sightseeing. A flick though 300 photographs in glossy hardback The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms gives plenty of ideas, from the Soneva Jani resort in the Maldives to the remote Outpost hotel in South African’s Kruger National Park. The book, published by luxury travel club mrandmrssmith.com, includes reviews from Stella McCartney and Raymond Blanc. The club website also has a spa collection including 100 private villas from Tuscany to Thailand, all with pools and spa access.

Bike firm Freewheel Holidays holds weekly webinars about different cycle tours in Europe and beyond – the next talk describes the Danube Cycle Path (above) and bike trips to Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria

Bike firm Freewheel Holidays holds weekly webinars about different cycle tours in Europe and beyond – the next talk describes the Danube Cycle Path (above) and bike trips to Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria

Spa-lovers can bring the sounds of summer into their homes as therapists from around the world rush to put their playlists online. The Longevity Wellness Worldwide Playlist on Spotify and elsewhere gives two hours of relaxing, Portuguese-themed music heard in five-star therapy rooms on the Algarve.

For the equally soothing sounds of nature tune in to The Sounds Of The Amazon, with two unique, hour-long recordings of the water, weather and wildlife of the jungle, one by day, the other by night. Listen for free by clicking on The Experience at delfinamazoncruises.com, where you can also read about pink river dolphins and daydream about one of the world’s most incredible river cruises. 

An equally endangered rainforest lies across the Atlantic in West Africa. The Guinean Forest is home to 330 species of bird, 600 varieties of butterfly and 1,000 different plants. A £26 donation with goodgifts.org helps preserve half an acre from illegal logging and other threats.

Airlines call for top holiday destinations to be spared 14-day quarantine rule


Ministers have been sent a list of 45 countries to prioritise for quarantine-free ‘air bridges’, it emerged last night.

Airlines drew up the index last week at the request of the Government amid mounting fury over ‘unenforceable’ plans for a 14-day quarantine imposed on all arrivals.

The list, agreed by airlines including British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, includes favourite holiday destinations in Europe, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, along with the US and much of the Caribbean.

Last night Tory backbenchers said there was growing ‘horror’ at plans to subject visitors to the UK to blanket quarantine measures.

The full list of 45 countries that airlines want to prioritise for the quarantine-free ‘air bridges’

A senior Tory said the plans did not have the support of ‘very large parts of the Cabinet’, adding: ‘There was a case for it in March, but there isn’t a case for it now.’ Officials are drawing up proposals which could allow quarantine-free travel to places chosen for popularity and economic importance.

Airlines want the first air bridges to be set up by the end of this month ‘at the latest’, sources said, raising fresh hopes for summer holidays abroad.

The blanket quarantine, which comes into force next Monday, has been criticised by Border Force, police leaders and Tory MPs who say it is riddled with loopholes.

Whitehall sources say the Home Office and Department for Transport are moving ‘at pace’ to establish quarantine-free travel corridors between countries. An industry source told the Mail: ‘A lot of [the list] is focused on short-haul leisure – popular holiday locations and places where people might fly to see friends and family. We’d want to see as many as possible set up by the end of the month.

‘The Government requested the airlines send it in, so they could have a sense of where the volume and demand would be. It’s quite a contrast to a week and a half ago, when Downing Street played down the idea of air bridges.’ They added the proposed list depends on countries wanting to set up an air bridge with the UK and the Foreign Office will have to drop its advice against all but essential global travel.

Airline and airport bosses are due to meet Government officials tomorrow when details of the quarantine plan will be unveiled.

Dining out: Customers in Greece ¿ which is on the list ¿ this weekend

Dining out: Customers in Greece – which is on the list – this weekend

A number of Tory MPs are revolting against the quarantine plans and Sir Graham Brady – chairman of the 1922 committee of backbenchers – has told Downing Street of their concerns. He said: ‘The fundamental objection to the quarantine proposal is that it makes no sense at all to have quarantine for travel from countries that have very low rates of infection or no infection.

‘At the very least, it should be possible to exclude a number of countries on that basis. Air bridges are a very sensible proposition.’

One senior Tory said: ‘I share concerns the quarantine plan will do such huge damage to the tourism industry, without necessarily making us much safer. It feels that it’s a bit too late and a bit strong.’

An ex-minister said: ‘There is growing horror on the backbench about this. It’s several weeks since it first arose that the Government was considering quarantine and we are no further forward as to how it actually gets introduced.’

Henry Smith, Tory MP and chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said: ‘I don’t think quarantine is appropriate to be introduced in just over a week’s time. It will prolong damage to the aviation and travel industries. It’s well intentioned but not very effective so the idea of air bridges has merit and is worthy of exploration.’  

Don’t let Britain get left behind 

By Graham Brady and Paul Maynard

A fact that may surprise many is despite being a small island nation, the UK has the third largest aviation network. We are behind only the United States and China, and the biggest in Europe.

Our world-class airlines and airports are proud to support the UK’s global connectivity and the industry contributes over a million jobs across the country.

The sheer scale of the sector, however, is impossible to realise at present as airlines have had to ground their operations.

Sir Graham Brady MP is chairman of the 1922 Committee

Paul Maynard is MP for Blackpool North & Cleveleys and is a former aviation minister

Sir Graham Brady MP (left) is chairman of the 1922 Committee and Paul Maynard MP (right) is a former aviation minister

While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers.

If this is to be implemented, it must be in place for no longer than necessary.

This is important not only for the long-term impacts on our aviation and tourism sectors but its disproportionate effect on our position as a proud trading nation.

It will be impossible to get goods to market if people are forced to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival into the UK.

'While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers,' say Sir Graham Brady MP and Paul Maynard MP

‘While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers,’ say Sir Graham Brady MP and Paul Maynard MP

So what way forward? The Government has accepted the concept of ‘air bridges’, which would enable certain countries to travel without the need for quarantine.

UK airlines have set out 45 destinations for quarantine-free air bridges. We urge the Government to establish these as soon as possible. We cannot afford to get left behind. France and Greece have recently announced plans to drop some border controls from June 15.

The Government must be working towards an approach which can ensure public health requirements are met while allowing the industry to get back to doing what it does best – connecting goods and people and creating jobs.

There is not a second to lose.

Sir Graham Brady MP is chairman of the 1922 Committee and Paul Maynard MP is a former aviation minister

Airlines call for top holiday destinations to be spared 14-day quarantine rule


Ministers have been sent a list of 45 countries to prioritise for quarantine-free ‘air bridges’, it emerged last night.

Airlines drew up the index last week at the request of the Government amid mounting fury over ‘unenforceable’ plans for a 14-day quarantine imposed on all arrivals.

The list, agreed by airlines including British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, includes favourite holiday destinations in Europe, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, along with the US and much of the Caribbean.

Last night Tory backbenchers said there was growing ‘horror’ at plans to subject visitors to the UK to blanket quarantine measures.

The full list of 45 countries that airlines want to prioritise for the quarantine-free ‘air bridges’

A senior Tory said the plans did not have the support of ‘very large parts of the Cabinet’, adding: ‘There was a case for it in March, but there isn’t a case for it now.’ Officials are drawing up proposals which could allow quarantine-free travel to places chosen for popularity and economic importance.

Airlines want the first air bridges to be set up by the end of this month ‘at the latest’, sources said, raising fresh hopes for summer holidays abroad.

The blanket quarantine, which comes into force next Monday, has been criticised by Border Force, police leaders and Tory MPs who say it is riddled with loopholes.

Whitehall sources say the Home Office and Department for Transport are moving ‘at pace’ to establish quarantine-free travel corridors between countries. An industry source told the Mail: ‘A lot of [the list] is focused on short-haul leisure – popular holiday locations and places where people might fly to see friends and family. We’d want to see as many as possible set up by the end of the month.

‘The Government requested the airlines send it in, so they could have a sense of where the volume and demand would be. It’s quite a contrast to a week and a half ago, when Downing Street played down the idea of air bridges.’ They added the proposed list depends on countries wanting to set up an air bridge with the UK and the Foreign Office will have to drop its advice against all but essential global travel.

Airline and airport bosses are due to meet Government officials tomorrow when details of the quarantine plan will be unveiled.

Dining out: Customers in Greece ¿ which is on the list ¿ this weekend

Dining out: Customers in Greece – which is on the list – this weekend

A number of Tory MPs are revolting against the quarantine plans and Sir Graham Brady – chairman of the 1922 committee of backbenchers – has told Downing Street of their concerns. He said: ‘The fundamental objection to the quarantine proposal is that it makes no sense at all to have quarantine for travel from countries that have very low rates of infection or no infection.

‘At the very least, it should be possible to exclude a number of countries on that basis. Air bridges are a very sensible proposition.’

One senior Tory said: ‘I share concerns the quarantine plan will do such huge damage to the tourism industry, without necessarily making us much safer. It feels that it’s a bit too late and a bit strong.’

An ex-minister said: ‘There is growing horror on the backbench about this. It’s several weeks since it first arose that the Government was considering quarantine and we are no further forward as to how it actually gets introduced.’

Henry Smith, Tory MP and chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said: ‘I don’t think quarantine is appropriate to be introduced in just over a week’s time. It will prolong damage to the aviation and travel industries. It’s well intentioned but not very effective so the idea of air bridges has merit and is worthy of exploration.’  

Don’t let Britain get left behind 

By Graham Brady and Paul Maynard

A fact that may surprise many is despite being a small island nation, the UK has the third largest aviation network. We are behind only the United States and China, and the biggest in Europe.

Our world-class airlines and airports are proud to support the UK’s global connectivity and the industry contributes over a million jobs across the country.

The sheer scale of the sector, however, is impossible to realise at present as airlines have had to ground their operations.

Sir Graham Brady MP is chairman of the 1922 Committee

Paul Maynard is MP for Blackpool North & Cleveleys and is a former aviation minister

Sir Graham Brady MP (left) is chairman of the 1922 Committee and Paul Maynard MP (right) is a former aviation minister

While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers.

If this is to be implemented, it must be in place for no longer than necessary.

This is important not only for the long-term impacts on our aviation and tourism sectors but its disproportionate effect on our position as a proud trading nation.

It will be impossible to get goods to market if people are forced to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival into the UK.

'While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers,' say Sir Graham Brady MP and Paul Maynard MP

‘While we are seeing other nations announce their intention to reopen their borders, the UK has appeared to turn the other way, declaring a 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers,’ say Sir Graham Brady MP and Paul Maynard MP

So what way forward? The Government has accepted the concept of ‘air bridges’, which would enable certain countries to travel without the need for quarantine.

UK airlines have set out 45 destinations for quarantine-free air bridges. We urge the Government to establish these as soon as possible. We cannot afford to get left behind. France and Greece have recently announced plans to drop some border controls from June 15.

The Government must be working towards an approach which can ensure public health requirements are met while allowing the industry to get back to doing what it does best – connecting goods and people and creating jobs.

There is not a second to lose.

Sir Graham Brady MP is chairman of the 1922 Committee and Paul Maynard MP is a former aviation minister

Desperate vineyard owners fly in Romanian pickers by PRIVATE JET to save their harvest in Italy


Desperate vineyard owners have flown Romanian fruit pickers in to Italy by private jet in a bid to save their grape harvests.

One of the fruit pickers who was flown to the northern Italian town of Termeno said it was the first time they had been on a plane. 

Italy’s vines have not stopped growing during the country’s long coronavirus lockdown, but without their usual foreign grape-pickers, winemakers are now fearing for their harvests. 

A desperate owner of a vineyard in Northern Italy flew a group of Romanian fruit pickers by private jet (pictured at the airport in Bolzano) into the country on May 28

Every year, thousands of fruit pickers travel to Italy from Eastern Europe to harvest fruit and vegetables. This year, however, the coronavirus has made this almost impossible

Every year, thousands of fruit pickers travel to Italy from Eastern Europe to harvest fruit and vegetables. This year, however, the coronavirus has made this almost impossible

Every summer, tens of thousands of farm workers from Africa and Eastern Europe come to Italy to harvest fruit and vegetables.

The outbreak of coronavirus, which locked down Italy in early March, made it almost impossible for these vital foreign workers to come.

One South Tyrolean vintner in the northern province of Bolzano took matters into his own hands, renting a plane to fly in his team of long-time workers from Romania. 

Owner Martin Hofstaetter, whose vines are located around the picturesque town of Termeno, has relied for more than ten years on a team of female Romanian pickers.

Pictured: Romanian seasonal worker Maria Codrea, wearing a face mask, works on the estate  in Termeno, Northern Italy, on May 28. She said that working in Romania over the summer would have been hard, adding 'everything is closed, factories and everything'

Pictured: Romanian seasonal worker Maria Codrea, wearing a face mask, works on the estate  in Termeno, Northern Italy, on May 28. She said that working in Romania over the summer would have been hard, adding ‘everything is closed, factories and everything’

An aerial picture taken on May 28 shows the top of the church of Saints Quirico and Giulitta in Termeno, Trentino Alto Adige, Northern Italy. As the country eases its coronavirus lockdown measures, questions over whether this year's grape harvest can be saved

An aerial picture taken on May 28 shows the top of the church of Saints Quirico and Giulitta in Termeno, Trentino Alto Adige, Northern Italy. As the country eases its coronavirus lockdown measures, questions over whether this year’s grape harvest can be saved

Usually, they arrive in a small bus and stay for a few months. But this year, despite having the right to work in Italy, they were turned away at the Hungarian border.

Hofstaetter was quick to act, hiring a small plane to transport the women directly from Romania to Termeno at his own expense.

‘We had never been on a plane before. It was a great experience for us,’ Maria Codrea, from Calinesti in Romania, told AFPTV.

Codrea, 39, said she depended on the annual work in Italy.

Staying back in Romania ‘would have been hard,’ she said.

‘Even where we are, everything is closed, factories and everything.’

One of the fruit pickers who arrived in Italy said that they rely on this work every year, and that a summer of staying in Romania 'would have been hard'

One of the fruit pickers who arrived in Italy said that they rely on this work every year, and that a summer of staying in Romania ‘would have been hard’

Pictured, left to right: Romanian fruit pickers, who were flown in a private plane to the vineyard, Ileana Ciuc, Ana Maria Beriade, Maria Cupcea and Maria Codrea. Codrea said 'we had never been on a plane before'

Pictured, left to right: Romanian fruit pickers, who were flown in a private plane to the vineyard, Ileana Ciuc, Ana Maria Beriade, Maria Cupcea and Maria Codrea. Codrea said ‘we had never been on a plane before’

Pictured: Martin Hofstaetter in the vineyard's cellar on May 28. He grows wine at the vineyard near Termeno, Northern Italy. He flew the fruit pickers to his vineyard on a private jet in a bid to save this year's grape harvest

Pictured: Martin Hofstaetter in the vineyard’s cellar on May 28. He grows wine at the vineyard near Termeno, Northern Italy. He flew the fruit pickers to his vineyard on a private jet in a bid to save this year’s grape harvest

Codrea will stay until mid-July in Termeno with her team of seven other Romanian women before returning home. A second team of about 20 workers from Romania will arrive in Termeno at the end of August for the harvest.

Hofstaetter, whose wines include the famous white varieties of Italy’s northeast, said he might have been able to find Italian workers, ‘but now the Italians no longer want to work in the fields or vineyards.’

‘The Italians disappear after a few days’ of the back-breaking work, he added.

It was a shame that work in agriculture was not ‘more highly valued’, he said, but he was very happy with the skills and dedication of the Romanians, who had been picking for him for over 10 years.

Last week, the first group of about 100 foreign farm workers arrived in Italy from Morocco, their transport paid for by a farmers’ association in the eastern region of Abruzzo.

For Codrea, it is not difficult work among Hofstaetter’s family vines in the Adige Valley, with the sound of the birds, and views of the mountains and a nearby church steeple.

‘We’re used to the work. I like the work, I work with pleasure,’ she said.

Pictured: Ana Maria Berinde, one of the Romanian seasonal workers to have been flown in by  vineyard owner Hofstaetter, wears a protective face mask while tending to the vines

Pictured: Ana Maria Berinde, one of the Romanian seasonal workers to have been flown in by  vineyard owner Hofstaetter, wears a protective face mask while tending to the vines

Hofstaetter said that 'the Italians disappear after a few days' of the back-breaking work, and that he is very happy with the skill and dedication of the Romanian workers he hires

Hofstaetter said that ‘the Italians disappear after a few days’ of the back-breaking work, and that he is very happy with the skill and dedication of the Romanian workers he hires

Hofstaetter's (pictured right talking to one of his colleagues) wines include the famous white varieties of Italy's northeast

Hofstaetter’s (pictured right talking to one of his colleagues) wines include the famous white varieties of Italy’s northeast

Italy was hit particularly hard by coronavirus, and was the European epicentre of the disease in its early stages. It has since reported 231,732 cases of Covid-19 and 33,142 related deaths. 

The country has been steadily easing its lockdown in recent weeks.

Hotels in Italy are set to reopen next week with reduced capacity and a two-metre distance policy, with restaurants and bars having already reopened on May 18 with tables being spaced two metres apart.

Beaches are mostly open, with umbrellas set at five metres apart to ensure social distancing measures are followed.

Flights in and out of Italy are set to resume from June 3 when travel between regions will also be permitted. Quarantine is also set to be lifted on June 3.  

However, the Italian government’s website says that movements may still be restricted in specific regions depending on the individual risk of the virus spreading further.

With the weather starting to sizzle, in absence of a burger van, why not ramp up the vin instead


Burgers are the dish of choice in lockdown… with the weather starting to sizzle, in absence of a van, why not ramp up the vin instead

The dish of choice in lockdown lately seems to be burgers. And with the weather starting to sizzle, I’ve even fired up my coal pot barbecue, which was a style of cooking Levi Roots introduced me to on a sunny day in Brixton a little while ago. 

Simple, portable, made of clay it’s the best little bar-b in the world. And with burgers on the go, in the absence of a van, I’m ramping up the vin.

With burgers I love red wine with a bit of welly to stack up against the relishes and sauces. Grape varieties such as Shiraz and Zinfandel do the job nicely, but Italy is a great place for reds with tomato-friendly acidity. 

I’ve found a stunner this week from Dudley-Jones Fine Wine that made my heart sing when I sipped it. With independent wine merchants like Davy’s flinging open the doors to their lists during lockdown, it’s a wonderful way of getting great wine delivered direct to your door that you may not always find on supermarket shelves. 

Jascots are another good bet to check out along with Tanners, and I’ve been blown away lately by the wines of historic London merchants Berry Bros & Rudd – the Loire rosé I’ve picked out from their range this week is a timely reminder to seek cool pink splendour from beyond the usual heartland of Provence in the south.

My rule of thumb though when it comes to burgers is go for flavours that are vivid and fun. You really don’t need a wine that’s been laid down to evolve a massive savoury strata of intriguing depth for a dish you’ll like be eating with your hands outdoors. 

Nebbiolo at is most accessible and scrumptious, known locally as Chiavennasca. Worth decanting this brilliant bottle to open the rose, cherry and almond aromas to the max. With crunchy cherry and sheer class, this is a red to rock your world (£14.75 Rosso di Valtellina Alberto Marsetti 2018 (13.5%) www.djfw.shop)

£13.99 Aglaea Nerello Mascalese 2019 Terre Siciliane (13.5%) Jascots and WINE OF THE WEEK £14.75 Rosso di Valtellina Alberto Marsetti 2018 (13.5%) www.djfw.shop

All you really need is the portability of a coal pot, the informality of the occasion and the mellow magic of sinking your teeth into a juicy bun of brilliance.  

Perfectly preserved Roman mosaic floor unearthed in an Italian vineyard 


Perfectly preserved Roman mosaic floor dating back to the 3rd Century AD is unearthed in an Italian vineyard

  • The tiles formed the floor of an ancient Roman villa from the 3rd Century AD 
  • They were discovered just a week after strict lockdown measures eased in Italy 
  • They were found above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona in Italy

A stunningly well preserved Roman mosaic floor dating back to the 3rd century AD has been discovered hidden under the soil of a vineyard in Italy.

The floor, found in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona, was uncovered just a week after archaeologists returned to work from lockdown.

The area was already known to researchers, as the remains of a Roman villa had been found there a century earlier, but that dig was abandoned in 1922.

Historians described it as the discovery of the year and town officials confirmed they were working with the owner of the land to make the historic site accessible.

A stunningly well preserved Roman mosaic floor dating back to the 3rd century AD has been discovered hidden under the soil of a vineyard in Italy

The floor, found in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona, was uncovered just a week after archaeologists returned to work from lockdown

The floor, found in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona, was uncovered just a week after archaeologists returned to work from lockdown

Last summer a team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona started digging again – to uncover more of the ancient home.

The team started again in October but work was suspended in February due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – putting Italy in a strict lockdown.

A week after work resumed they found the stunning mosaic floor hidden underneath a row of vines and are now gently excavating the rest of the area.

The first round of images to appear online show the pristine floor and foundations.

On their Facebook page, Negrar di Valpolicella officials said the goal of the dig is to ‘to identify the exact extension and exact location of the ancient construction.’  

Roberto Grison, the mayor of Negrar di Valpolicella, told the local newspaper L’Arena it was a cultural site of special value and deserves attention.

‘For this reason, together with the superintendent and those in charge of agricultural funds, we will find a way to make this treasure enjoyable,’ he said.

Historian Myko Clelland said the find was one of the most important of the year.

‘Newly discovered just outside of Verona, what could be this year’s biggest discovery – an almost entirely intact Roman mosaic villa floor,’ he said on Twitter.

He said there are many examples of similar stunning pieces of history buried under foot – in fact, he said there are parts of former Mesopotamia where there are hills in areas that should be entirely flat.

Last summer a team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona started digging again - to uncover more of the ancient home.

Last summer a team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona started digging again – to uncover more of the ancient home. 

Historians described it as the discovery of the year and town officials confirmed they were working with the owner of the land to make the historic site accessible

Historians described it as the discovery of the year and town officials confirmed they were working with the owner of the land to make the historic site accessible

‘They’re actually remains of entire towns, where residents built layer after layer until the whole thing became metres tall,’ he told the Metro. 

‘A thousand possible reasons, but a very loose rule of thumb is about an inch of soil per century, it’s amazing how humanity has a habit of just building on top of previous efforts. Rome is a fascinating example, many rediscoveries there on a regular basis!’

Authorities in the town are working with the owners of the site to find a way to ensure the ‘archaeological treasure’ can be accessible.

‘Subsequently, the Superintendence will connect with the owners of the area and with the Municipality to identify the most suitable ways to make this archaeological treasure available and open and visible under our feet,’ they wrote.