Worst Fear: Kidknapping attempt in centre

Gypsy arrested by florentine military police

Editorial Staff
November 3, 2005

A leisurely stroll through the centre of Florence turns into a nightmare for a visiting couple from Sanremo. When an unsuspecting husband and wife stopped inside a tiny shop on via Calzaiuoli, leaving their baby-laden perambulator at the doorway, two gypsy women tried to unfasten the infant’s safety belt in an effort to take the child. Their attempt was thwarted when the mother, realising something was amiss, lunged towards the women. Her screams for help caught the attention of traffic police who were slow to react, unsure whether to take the mother seriously.  Providence would have it that two Carabinieri officers on motorcycles were passing by at that precise moment. Understanding the gravity of the situation, they went immediately to the parents’ aid. During the chase that ensued, Florentine military police were intercepted by a group of six Romanian women who attempted to distract them by pulling on their uniforms.  

Only one of the two women involved in the attempted kidnapping, Diamanta Petache, was caught. Upon capture, in Via dei Gondi, Petache resisted arrest, telling the officers that she was pregnant and throwing herself on the ground, faking a nervous breakdown. She was immediately brought to Santa Maria Nuova Hospital and examined by emergency room physicians who diagnosed the woman as “perfectly healthy” and not pregnant. The gypsy has been charged with attempted kidnapping, based on the parents’ accusation that there was nothing in the perambulator that might have attracted the gypsies’ attention besides the child.


In the days following the attempted kidnapping, Mayor Leonardo Domenici asked for “immediate clarity” because “the city is waiting for answers” regarding the situation. Addressing the couple from Liguria, he added, “As mayor, I hope to express the sentiments of the whole city in offering my support. I hope you will be able to overcome this difficult moment and one day return to be guests in Florence.” Domenici also had flowers sent to the couple.


Petache has a valid passport issued in 2005 with a stamp from an Italian airport. In her pocket she was carrying the name of the lawyer who will defend her in court. It seems a strange coincidence, but another gypsy probably passed the lawyer’s name to her during the chase. The lawyer in question deals with permits to stay in Italy and requests for political asylum. Although her claim has not been officially proven, Petache states that she has started the application process to obtain asylum. The arrest of Petache, an illegal immigrant without legal permission to stay in Italy nor permanent residence, has prompted political debate as to whether Italy’s immigration policies are currently too lenient. Father Gianluca Bitossi, the director of the charity organisation Caritas Fiorentina, responded via Radio Toscana Network regarding the social controversy sparked by the attempted kidnapping. “There is certainly a sense of insecurity among more vulnerable segments of the population,” he said. “For this reason it’s important to intervene with an effective plan regarding education and social services on behalf of people in need.”

more articles