Surprise Gold Rush Hits Italy As Tourists Scour For Precious Nuggets
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(Kitco News) - Many people from around the world are flocking to Italy's northern Piedmont region to try their luck in the search for gold, this according to a report by The New York Times.
Tourists are scouring for gold along the Elvo River, in the hopes of coming across a deposit formed by retreating Alpine glaciers.
What makes this area, dubbed the country's Klondike, so unique is that the Elvo River flows along the Bessa Natural Reserve, which is an historic open-field gold mine.
The site was the "ancient world's biggest gold deposit" between the second and first century B.C., said Aldo Rocchetti, the director of a museum dedicated to gold and the Bessa gold field.
Gold fever has overwhelmed the area throughout the years for centuries, but recently the region saw a revival of gold hunters coming over in the hopes of finding the precious metal.
A lot of people who arrive try to make contact with local gold-seeking associations.
"Some people have the idea that you go and find gold like an A.T.M. machine," Arturo Ramella, one of the founders of the Biella Goldpanning Association, told The New York Times. "We know you can't live off of this so we try to discourage people. There are some retirees that go every day and if they find a flake or two it can add up, but it's not going to substitute a salary, not in Italy."
The chance of finding easy gold is so alluring that many can't resist the temptation, according to the media report. "Because there is always the possibility to find gold here -- it's a very attractive stream," Ramella said.
There are local laws that limit the amount of gold that can be discovered to five grams per day. Yet, this is more than enough, according to the locals. "You never find more than a few grams," said Giuseppe Pipino, who brought competitive gold panning to Italy.
In fact, most of the gold nuggets discovered in the area nowadays are the size of bread crumbs, according to the media report.
Also, there are additional regulations that oversee how the gold can be extracted. For example, in Piedmont, search for gold may be done with pans only.