Italy, as everyone knows, is the place for pasta. And so it goes without saying that visitors to the country often head home with a package or two in their duffels or suitcases.
The woman in this story was no exception, in that regard. And yet, there was something about her that must have puzzled authorities when she showed up recently at customs controls in Milan Malpensa airport.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports that the woman — who has not been identified by name but it said to have Nigerian origins and been living near Turin, in the country's northwest — was boarding a connecting flight to Istanbul, Turkey, with final destination Lagos.
At customs control, when asked if she was carrying cash, bonds, or other valuables out of the country, she declared she had less than 10,000 euros in cash — the maximum amount that can be taken out of the country without notifying authorities according to Italian law.
Something about woman didn't sit right, though, and so after a routine check on the spot, the officers decided to search the woman's checked luggage. That's when they found several paper boxes of penne, rigatoni and pipe rigate. Hmmm....
Intrigued, the officers then decided to open the boxes, and that's when they discovered — hidden under the different types of pasta — various wads of 20-, 50- and 100-euro notes. Oh, mamma mia!
Italian authorities report that in total the woman had some 70,240 euros with her, at least 60,000 of which were in the pasta packets. According to the news report, they seized half of the undeclared cash but did not say whether the woman was allowed to travel on to Istanbul and Lagos.
Also unclear is whether she was able to keep her valuable pasta.