Italy police recover stolen manuscript after 30 years

A close up of the manuscript's Latin text Image copyright Teleliberta Piacenza
Image caption The carabinieri are hoping that the seizure could lead them to other stolen volumes

Italian police have recovered a 15th Century manuscript that's been missing for more than 30 years after spotting it for sale online.

The carabinieri art squad has been trying to trace the priceless book for decades, and leapt into action when it turned up on an internet auction site for the "ridiculously low price of 600 euros" ($656; £538), the Piacenza 24 news site reports. It's now been returned home to a library in the northern city of Piacenza.

Police have charged three known art thieves with receiving stolen goods, having tracked them down through some rapid online investigations, La Repubblica newspaper reports.

But the rare manuscript, a register of local blacksmiths' statutes, is only one of 145 volumes stolen from the Passerini Landi library during repairs in 1985. Seventy-two have been recovered so far, but none have been found for years.

"Recovering the manuscript is important to us, as it gives us hope that we will be able to find the other missing volumes," local carabinieri chief Corrado Scattaretico tells Teleliberta Piacenza TV. The art squad expects the case to shed light on any buyers or private collectors who may have had contact with the three arrested men.

The library's curator of antiquities, Massimo Baucia, tells Piacenza 24 that he's delighted with the return of even one of the precious volumes. He says: "Although one swallow doesn't make a summer, whenever a swallow does return to its nest it's still a beautiful day".

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