ROME — The story began grimly, with an all too familiar ring: another Italian grandmother had tested positive for COVID-19. At the age of 98, Nonna Maria was at particularly high risk in one of countries hit hardest by the pandemic — and though she had only developed light symptoms, doctors told her to remain at home in "maximum isolation."

But it was while in quarantine last November, that this COVID story would take a very different twist: the Nonna ("grandmother") found a fortune hidden in her apartment in eastern Rome, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports.

Without much else to do in lockdown, Maria had set out to organize her memorabilia and tidy up her apartment. It was in the hidden compartment of an old sewing machine that she found a 1986 government bond that she had completely forgotten about. Her late husband, a former army official, had decided to put his savings into an Italian Post bond originally worth 50 million Italian lira (26,000 euros), before hiding it there to protect it from burglars.

An ongoing legal investigation will confirm the bond's present value. The Italian Post has already offered 200,000 euros, although some have questioned the math and say she could be due as much as half a million, or about 19 times the amount of the initial investment.

And the best bit of good fortune: Nonna Maria had fully recovered from COVID-19.

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