Tourist Fined $1,500 for Stealing Sand From Italian Island

This sand is no ordinary sand. It's federally protected.

GABRIELE MALTINTI/SHUTTERSTOCK
GABRIELE MALTINTI/SHUTTERSTOCK

Last year, travelers learned a lesson they never thought they needed, when a couple faced six years in jail for bottling sand from the Italian island of Sardinia. But today we are reminded of an equally important lesson: people repeat historical mistakes constantly, even when the consequences make international news. 

A French tourist was recently caught sneaking Sardinian sand at Italy's Cagliari Elmas Airport, according to CNN. He was carrying 4.4lbs of the unbelievably gorgeous grains in water bottles or -- as I would argue if placed in his situation -- under 2kg (the aforementioned couple who faced six years in jail stole 90lbs of sand). The French tourist was fined €1,000, or about $1,200. 

When I told my Italian grandmother the news, she said, "If you're going to steal sand, you might as well go big with it, right?" But... falso, nonna, because a law enacted in 2017 in response to an increase in luggage-smuggled sand, made hoarding Sardinian sand illegal. Each grain is now considered a public good.

“The bottle was confiscated and is in now in our operating room where we hold these confiscated items,” a spokesperson for Sardinia’s forest rangers told CNN. He said that, last year, they found a website that was selling the sand as souvenirs, and that the team usually collects a decent number of bottles by the year's end. 

While we're on the topic, you'll also be fined for tagging the Colosseum and skinny dipping in the Venice canals, so let's all try to remember the rules of the Outside World once we can travel once again. 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.