Salvatore “Toto” Riina was captured 19 years ago and used the ten-bedroom villa, complete with swimming pool, as a venue for mob summits. He is now behind bars.
The villa, where he holed up for 23 years, had ornate marble bathrooms with gold fittings. It was surrounded by palm trees to prevent Riina from being spotted by surveillance planes.
But now, following his arrest and conviction, builders have finally moved in to begin renovations on the building in a leafy suburb of Palermo, Sicily, which will be turned into a police station to show the country’s authorities are determined to crack down on the so-called Men of Honour.
The work is expected to cost around £1 million and will include reinforcing the walls and windows of the villa in case of revenge attacks from mobsters who see its new use as a huge insult.
General Teo Luzi, of the paramilitary carabinieri police, said: “It will take around a year to complete the renovations but it is a very symbolic action as it will change from a criminal structure to one of legality – a victory of good over evil.”
It is not the first time one of Riina’s properties has been turned into a police station. A similar project was undertaken ten years ago with another villa of his, while a third property in countryside outside Palermo was recently turned into a bed and breakfast.