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'Il Postino' islands hit by first murder in 50 years

THE inhabitants of an idyllic group of islands in the Mediterranean that were the setting for the film Il Postino have been shocked by the first murder in the archipelago for more than half a century.

The killing of a 62-year-old woman has shattered the easy-going ambience of the volcanic Aeolian Islands – the setting for the award-winning film 'Il Postino' (The Postman) and a summer playground for the rich and famous.

The murder of Eufemia Biviano, a former hotel chamber maid, took place on Christmas Eve on Lipari, the largest of the seven islands, which lie off the north coast of Sicily.

Police believe she may have been killed after disturbing burglars who were ransacking her house, which is set amid olive trees in the north-west of the island.

Her body was found in a garage attached to her home.

The crime is being investigated by Carabinieri detectives who have been despatched to the islands from Sicily.

The last murder on the islands was in 1955, when a woman was killed by two men and thrown down a well.

Popular with well-heeled Italian tourists, the archipelago's inhabitants make their living from fishing and tourism and are accustomed to leaving their keys in the cars and their homes unlocked.

The alarm was raised by a friend of the victim, Giacomo Alessi. "I called her a dozen times and she didn't answer. I wanted to invite her to Mass on Christmas Eve. We went to her house and found her body in the garage. The door to the house was open but the rooms had not been ransacked."

A niece, Annamaria Alizzo, said her aunt had worked in the hotel business for 15 years and lived quietly.

"I couldn't believe it when relatives told me what had happened. She was a good woman. She never did any harm to anyone."

A post mortem will be carried out on Wednesday in Messina, Sicily.