Tunnel beneath the Strait of Messina (an Italian hoax)

Italian social media was buzzing recently with word of the discovery of a narrow tunnel, over 2000 years old, running beneath the Strait of Messina (the body of water between the mainland of Italy and Sicily).


The tunnel was believed to have been built by the Romans during the Punic wars (264-241 BC) as a passageway for troops. It was discovered by workers doing construction on a highway.

But the story turns out to have come from an Italian fake news site called Dangerous News. One of the tunnel photos came from an Aug 2011 Daily Mail article about the discovery of mysterious stone-age tunnels in Bavaria. [link: canicattiweb.com]

The larger context for this hoax is the on-again/off-again attempts to build a bridge over the Strait of Messina (plans to build such a bridge have been announced twice, and cancelled twice). So the joke would be that the Roman tunnel is nonexistent, just like the modern bridge.

It reminds me of the jokes that used to be made in the British media about tunnels beneath the English Channel, before the Chunnel was completed. Such as the supposed discovery of a "Napoleonic Chunnel" in 1988 (an April Fool's Day joke).

History Social Media

Posted on Fri Feb 21, 2014



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