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Mondo Europe: Italy’s Robinson Crusoe forced off his island after 30 years

Budelli island, off Sardinia, where Mauro Marandi has lived alone for the past 30 years - Credit: Photo by: Luca Picciau/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Italy’s Robinson Crusoe says he is “really pissed off” being forced off the idyllic island he has spent 30 years living on alone.

Mauro Morandi, now 81, landed on the pink sand atoll of Budelli in 1989 while attempting to sail to Polynesia with friends. He has remained ever since, even after his sole companion died in 1991.

He was the island’s official caretaker for many years but now authorities want him to leave as they turn Budelli into an environmental observatory.

Morandi said last year that if evicted, “I wouldn’t know where else to go live, nor what to do – this is my life. I just don’t see myself playing cards or bowls.”

The city of Basel is offering beggars 20 Swiss francs (£15.85) and a one-way train ticket to any European city of their choice as long as they sign a contract promising not to return.

So far 31 people have taken up the offer, including 14 Romanians and seven from each of Germany and Belgium. They face deportation if they are found to have come back.

The move is part of tough restrictions against begging in some parts of Switzerland. In January the European Court of Human Rights ordered Geneva, where begging has been banned for more than 60 years, to pay 922 euros (£800) compensation to a Roma female beggar who had been jailed for five days after being unable to pay a fine.

Locals say Basel’s stance is particularly ironic since the city’s cathedral features a relief of Saint Martin using his sword to divide his cape in two so he could give one half to a beggar in the cold of winter. 


A Bucharest policeman is facing suspension or the sack after sneaking out of work to have his eyebrows sculpted.

His absence was noted when he failed to answer a dispatcher’s request for all officers in the area to attend a Code 2 incident. When asked to explain himself, the 32-year-old is said to have told his bosses he was at the beauty salon working undercover on a case not even his immediate superiors knew about.

An internal investigation report said: “The officer’s claims cannot be taken as sincere.” He is likely to escape dismissal but have his salary docked for several months as punishment.


A Croatian politician claims to have given the thumbs-up to an arson attack that prevented filming of a remake of The Omen in the country 16 years ago, costing a Hollywood company half a million dollars.

Blaženko Boban, who was then the mayor of Solin, near Split, said he and a colleague turned a blind eye to the burning of wooden scaffolding set up to shoot a key scene in a ruined church because locals were up in arms about the film’s sacrilegious nature. After the scaffolding was destroyed, filming stopped for several months and Bodan then claims to have organised for permission to shoot to be withdrawn.

In Croatia, endangering property by a dangerous act carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison but Boban is safe as the 15-year statute of limitations on the crime has now expired. 

He is now running for re-election as prefect of Split-Dalmatia County and said in a statement, “Regardless of the fact that making such films also brings significant financial benefits, I believe that there are some things and situations in life that cannot be measured by money. I believe that I did the right thing, and I still stand by that position.”


A bomb squad called to detonate a grenade found by a jogger in the forest near Passau, Germany, found that it was actually a rubber sex toy.

Police said they had become sceptical after learning that the object had been discovered in a transparent bag that also included condoms and lubricant.

“A search on the internet confirmed our suspicions that there are actually sex toys in the form of hand grenades,” a spokesperson said, adding that they had probably been dumped in the woods as “someone just wanted to dispose of the things and not thrown them in their own bin.”

A giant sea eagle that escaped from a sanctuary near Dusseldorf in the west of Germany has been found in Budapest, some 1300km (800 miles) away.

Grobi, who is named after the German translation of the Sesame Street character Grover and has a 2.5-meter (8ft 3ins) wingspan, flew away from his home after being attacked by crows.

Staff say he must have taken advantage of “mega-good thermals” to make his epic journey, which ended when he was tempted with a chicken in the Örség National Park. He was then taken to Budapest Zoo, where he is described as being “very thin, but healthy so far.”


Doctors in Groningen are warning students about a dangerous drinking game that has left several youngsters with beer bottle tops stuck in their throats.

The game sees two challengers take turns in throwing bottle tops into a glass full of beer. If one lands, the other participant has to down the glass in one, bottle cap and all.

A spokesperson for the city’s university hospital shared an X-ray of a bottle top lodged halfway down a student’s throat, with the message: “This is dangerous. Since the caps are large and sharp, this can damage the tissue of the esophagus and stomach.”

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