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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Alarm over Berlusconi lava trick
Mr Berlusconi's Villa Certosa
The Villa Certosa: Sardinia is a magnet for rich Italians
Alarmed neighbours of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called the fire brigade out to his luxury villa to extinguish ... a fake volcano.

The billionaire had staged the eruption along with fireworks and a small earthquake as a surprise for his party guests in Porto Rotondo, Sardinia.

Mr Berlusconi was marking Italy's biggest public holiday in summer - the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Mr Berlusconi, who lost the April election, is nicknamed "the cavalier".

Sardinia map
He had the fake volcano built on an artificial hill at his sprawling 60-hectare (148-acre) estate on Sardinia's Costa Smeralda.

When the firefighters arrived at the scene Mr Berlusconi's bodyguards had to explain that it was "only a party".

He has previously hosted Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the Villa Certosa.

Verbal, rather than visual, gaffes were more characteristic of Mr Berlusconi during his long period in office.




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