Image: Cleaner sweeps cafe entrance
Alessandra Tarantino  /  AP
A cleaner sweeps the entrance of the Cafe' de Paris on Rome's Via Veneto on Wednesday. Italian authorities have seized some $284 million in assets and businesses owned by the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate, including the Cafe de Paris of "La Dolce Vita" movie fame.
updated 7/22/2009 2:49:44 PM ET 2009-07-22T18:49:44

Italian authorities on Wednesday seized about $284 million in assets and businesses owned by a crime syndicate, including the Cafe de Paris of "La Dolce Vita" movie fame.

Rome police and anti-mafia officials said that 12 other restaurants, apartments and luxury cars allegedly linked to the 'ndrangheta were also impounded in the operation.

The Cafe de Paris, which became a symbol of La Dolce Vita, or "the sweet life," in the 1960s remains open, Rome police official Daniele Galimberti said.

Galimberti said the establishment was briefly shut early Wednesday, but only to allow police to search it.

"We wanted to check how much money there was in the cash register and seize the account books," Galimberti said, adding that authorities have appointed a manager to let the cafe stay open for the time being.

"It's important to guarantee its activity for all those chefs, waiters and other personnel who are working there," he said.

A famed haunt of movie stars
The restaurant, with a covered outdoor area, is located on Rome's upscale Via Veneto, the setting of glitzy nights that were immortalized by Federico Fellini's 1960 movie.

The cafe — a famed haunt of movie stars, directors and hopeful ingenues in the 1950s — is a few steps from the U.S. Embassy compound. Palestinian militants wounded 38 people in a grenade attack on the cafe in 1985.

Galimberti said a court hearing will be scheduled within 30 days to decide on how long the cafe will remain open.

He said the establishment belonged to a former hairdresser from the southern region of Calabria who is suspected of having ties to reputed 'ndrangheta (pronounced AN-dran-getta) local boss Vincenzo Alvaro.

Anti-mafia prosecutors say mobsters are snapping up real estate in high-rent Rome neighborhoods.

The 'ndrangheta, based in Calabria, has eclipsed other mob organizations in power and reach.

Prosecutors have said mob groups are increasingly investing profits from the drug trade and other illicit activities in legitimate businesses and property, including restaurants, stores and hotels, in northern Italy and abroad.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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