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Italy: Berlusconi 'due to sign deed' to buy beach villa on troubled island

last update: June 16, 13:05

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Rome, 16 June (AKI) - Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is due to sign the deed to purchase a villa on the southern Italian island Lampedusa where tens-of-thousands of illegal immigrants have arrived this year, according to Bernardino De Rubeis, mayor of Lampedusa.

During a meeting on Wednesday with the billionaire premiere at his Rome residence on Wednesday, Berlusconi said he will sign the deed to purchase the villa on 28 June, De Rubeis said. The price was not immediately known.

Lampedusa is closer to Tunisia than Italy making it the most convenient location to enter Italy for tens of thousands of migrants who have made the trip this year after setting sail from North Africa.

The 20-square-kilometre island's reputation as a vacation paradise has been damaged by televised images of an overflowing migrant detention centre and hundreds of African's sleeping rough and wandering the streets. Summer tourist traffic has reportedly slowed to a trickle.

During a March visit Berlusconi made a public relations pitch for the troubled island, pledging to build a golf course and declaring his intention to purchase a villa on the island with around 6,000 residents.

Now it appears that Berlusconi will add the white beach-front Greek-style house named "Two Palms" to his collection of vacation properties including a home on the Caribbean island of Antigua, one on Italy's island of Sardinia and a sprawling Lake Como villa, near Milan in Italy's north.

According to an Italian real estate web site, the house can sleep eight people, is set back from the scenic bay of Cala Francese, and has two palm trees.

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