Villa Certosa – Italy’s vulgar Versailles: yours for £350m

No one can accuse Silvio Berlusconi of not making the most of his bunga bunga palace, the Villa Certosa.


Silvio Berlusconi has enjoyed his time at the Villa Certosa

Silvio Berlusconi is selling Villa Certosa, his "bunga-bunga palace" in Sardinia. According to Corriere della Sera newspaper, the former Italian prime minister has taken Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi crown prince and first in line to the throne, on a five-hour tour of the property, for which he hopes to fetch a tasty £350m.

Berlusconi's holiday home on the Costa Smeralda, nicknamed after his wild parties, has been described by one Italian website as "a concentration of vulgar grandiosity that puts the Palace of Versailles in the shade".

With its 168 acres of garden, six swimming pools, amphitheatre and "James Bond-style grotto" giving discreet access to the sea it seems well suited to the needs of the publicity-shy Saudi royal family, especially since Berlusconi has gone to expensive lengths to make it secure.

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Mr Berlusconi's "frolics" at Villa Certosa, says The Times, "are engraved on Italy's collective memory": Putin once arrived on a Russian Navy cruiser; Mr and Mrs Blair have been photographed there with a bandana-clad Berlusconi (concealing a hair transplant); less happily, paparazzi have snapped photos showing "a large number of female friends in various states of undress".

A Times leader writer imagined an estate agent's sales pitch to the Saudi prime minister. "We have 68 rooms in the villa, so you would be able to accommodate your family's wives satisfactorily.There is even a beauty salon, which gave Mr Berlusconi a splendid new head of hair.

"I am sure that if your uncle wanted to dye his beard a bushy black they could provide a professional service. We have an amphitheatre, where your servants could slaughter all the village sheep and goats after Ramadan I'm sure you could install a missile or two inside to keep the Iranians guessing..."

Sgt Pepper's self-indulgence

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band

Their Satanic Majesties Request

Sgt Pepper came out six months earlier, he said, and was greatly overrated. "Some people think it's a genius album, but I think it's a mish-mash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties Oh, if you can make a load of s***, so can we'." As a teenager, I likedSgt Pepper it's better than Richards says it is. But his forthrightness is always refreshing.

George Osborne is packing Niall Ferguson on Kissinger for his holiday reading. Yvette Cooper's choice is more fun: Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime. And Alan Johnson will enjoy himself with The Prime Minister, one of Trollope's best novels.

Tabloid money: burned tops and soggy bottoms the Beeb at its best

It won't save money because it will "send the crime rate soaring", by making "50% of the population a burglary target" as burglars go for odd-numbered houses, knowing they'll "never be investigated". Mind you, given that the police have "already given up on car crime, shoplifting and cannabis farms"... how long before they refuse to investigate all burglaries?

The collapse of the Kids Company charity "is very sad for the thousands of vulnerable children who over the years have been given an escape route from lives filled with despair", says The Daily Express's Chris Roycroft-Davis. To hear founder Camila Batmanghelidjh "ducking and diving on the radio and TV over the past two days, you'd think she was the victim in this whole sorry debacle, rather than the children".

But the real villains are the politicians, especially Prime Minister David Cameron, who "fell hook, line and sinker" for her charms, and the trustees who allowed it to become "the Greece of the charity world". Its demise shows how "a force for good" can become corrupted when "egos get in the way of common sense and sound business practice".

I'm not as big a fan of the "collapsed souffls, burned tops and soggy bottoms" of The Great British Bake Off as my cake-baking husband Ed Balls, says Yvette Cooper in the Daily Mirror. But "whether it's Bake Off, Doctor Who or the News Channel, there's a lot to be proud of" in the BBC's programmes. There's something for everyone and yet "the Tories are shamefully trying to attack it" for broadcasting popular entertainment. We must "stand up for the BBC Save our Strictly! Save our soggy bottoms!".