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While on holiday in Northern Italy, I saw a few of these insects while on ferries on Lake Como, and I've had no luck trying to identify them (which surprises me as they're so distinctive) and was wondering if people here could help. I don't have any photos, I did take one but can't find it anywhere, so I'm going to have to try my best to describe it from memory...
It was very big, 2.5/3 inches or so. Just one pair of wings if I recall correctly, red and black coloured, with a very distinctive large black detached blob-like tail which hung below it when it flew. It reminded me of a much larger version of those funny little black things we get in the UK around the start of summer that have the same blobby dangly tail (unfortunately I don't know the name of those either). That's all I really remember, but I hope someone might know what I'm talking about.