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Weird Europe: Chef wins £86k truffle scuffle

Umberto Bombana secured the product known locally as Truffle of the White Madonna.

Italian TV presenters Caterina Balivo and Enzo Iachetti hold the truffle that sold for 103,000 euros at the 21st World Alba white truffle charity auction in Turin. Photo: Stefano Guidi

A white truffle was sold at an auction in Alba, Italy for 103,000 euros (£86,000).

The 830-gram tuber magnatum pico, known locally as Truffle of the White Madonna, fetched the highest price in a truffle auction that raised a total of 457,000 euros (£383,000). It was bought by chef Umberto Bombana, who founded the Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo restaurant in Hong Kong.

Experts said the inflated price was partly to do with a hot, dry summer in northern Italy that has reduced the availability of white truffles.


Colombia has apologised to Germany over a cultural exchange event at a Bogota police academy that caused outrage when the hosts dressed up as Nazis.

Photos, shared on an official police Twitter account, showed students in SS uniforms with swastika armbands standing near a papiermâché Luftwaffe plane. Guests gained entry to the event through a fake Colditz-style castle, guarded by soldiers in Nazi-era uniforms, one holding a German shepherd dog.

The text accompanying the photos read: “We are organising an International Week with guest country Germany. With these cultural exchanges, we are strengthening the knowledge of our police students.”

Police later said the head of the academy had been sacked.


Work on Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia cathedral is nearing completion after 139 years.

The final phase is underway and will see five new spires rise above the church. The first, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, will be 450ft (137m) tall and be topped by a 12-pointed glass star, which will light up at night.

It will be completed by Christmas but the remaining spires, including one dedicated to Jesus and rising 570ft (173m), are not expected to be completed until 2026, the 100th anniversary of Sagara Familia architect Antoni Gaudi’s death in a tram accident.


Police in Gothenburg, Sweden, were called to a department store grotto after a young boy was bitten by another shopper’s dog while they queued to meet Father Christmas.

The animal has been reported for causing bodily harm. “Probably the boy will not want a dog as a Christmas present,” the police wrote on their website.


An Italian restaurant’s pasta speciality has caused controversy after the chef named it after a 1944 WWII battle in which 75,000 soldiers were killed or wounded and hundreds of civilians died.

The “Historic battle of Monte Cassino carbonara”, on the menu at Antica Masseria Montecassino near the scene of the fighting, was criticised by a Polish-Italian group. Soldiers from the Polish II Corps fought alongside British troops in the four-month-long conflict, which featured four major assaults on German defenders intent on stopping the Allies reaching Rome.

“The Italian Polish community is amazed and outraged by the use of the name of the battle of our soldiers in Monte Cassino in gastronomy,” said Urszula Stefanska-Andreini, president of the Union of Poles in Italy. The restaurant says the dish, prepared with eggs, bacon and pecorino cheese, honours the dead as servicemen who took part in the battle would have had pasta and bacon in their food rations and were given eggs and sheep cheese by locals.


An early Ikea armchair bought from a Swedish flea market for 7.50 euros (£6.30) has sold an auction for 15,055 euros (£12,623).

The rare Cavalli chair was designed by Bertil Ruda and was advertised in 1959 with the slogan, “Why not experience the design from 1965 in the 1950s?”

Auctioneer Anders Melin said its owner, from Sundsvall (Sweden) came to him after researching the history of her chair she bought in the 1980s, and noticing that a similar model had sold recently in Switzerland for 6,000 euros (£5,030). He said: “She hadn’t expected such a high sum.”


Donald Tusk, European Council president during much of the Brexit negotiations, has been banned from driving for three months and fined 500 zloty (£89) after he was clocked at 107 kilometers per hour (66mph) in a populated area.

Tusk, now leader of Poland’s main opposition party, said the sentence was “appropriate and accepted without discussion”.

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