Croatian media reported that a group of Croatian divers, led by Lorenzo Marovic, recently found a safe possibly containing a treasure of tens of millions of euros in the remains of the Italian flagship ‘Re d’Italia’ (King of Italy), which sunk in the Adriatic during the famous Battle of Lissa (Vis in Croatian) in 1886.

On July 16, 1866, the Italian fleet sailed from Ancona headed to Lissa. On July 20, 1866, the Austro-Hungarian naval squad arrived in the area and the Battle of Lissa took place. During the dramatic defeat of the Italian fleet, the 2nd class armored frigate sank ‘Re d’Italia’ was rammed and sunk, with 27 officers and 364 non-commissioned officers and sailors missing at sea; only 167 men were rescued. Supposedly, when the ship sank, it was carrying enough gold to cover the costs of the provisional Italian government in Dalmatia, in the event of an Italian victory against Austria during the Third Italian War of Independence.

In spring 2005 Marovic discovered the remains of the ‘Re d’Italia’ 7 miles off the north-eastern shore of the island of Lissa. Now the safe has been found, but no one knows what is actually inside. Marovic requested a permit from the superintendency and the Croatian Culture Ministry to undertake two more exploratory dives, because “Given that the ‘Re d’Italia’ lies at a depth of 115 meters and that dives can last up to five hours, we need special equipment and very experienced divers.” If in the safe there truly are hundreds of gold coins worth 250,000 lire at the time of the sinking, the treasure would now be worth tens of millions of euros; 10% of the which would which Marovic, while the rest would belong to the Croatian Culture Ministry. The same Ministry is the one in charge of issuing to Marovic the permit to extract the safe.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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