Florence, classified as a “prostitute” because of the large number of tourists. Who made the defiant statement

Mass tourism has turned Florence into a “prostitute”said one of the directors of the city museum, provoking the indignation of politicians, including the Italian Minister of Culture, notes The Guardian.

Ponte Vecchio Florence PHOTO: Shutterstock

“Once a city becomes a prostitute, it has a hard time becoming a virgin again”Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell'Accademia, which houses Michelangelo's David statue, told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

“Florence is very beautiful and I wish it would return to its citizens and not be crushed by tourism“, added the German historian, complaining about the lack of local shops on the streets full of souvenirs.

But “it's already too late” she also said, according to the newspaper La Repubblica, warning that if there will not be a “restraint” of numbers, “I see no hope left”.

The gallery later issued a statement in which Hollberg apologized “because he used the wrong words” about “a city i love”.

“What I wanted to say is that Florence must be an example for the whole of Italy of an increasingly conscious tourism, not of a 'hit and run' type of tourism”she said.

But Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said her statement was “serious and offensive” for Florence and for all of Italy and threatened to take action, stating that he would “evaluate all appropriate initiatives” in accordance with the legislation in force.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's nationalist government has been accused of trying to promote more Italians to top cultural positions, as well as more people sympathetic to its right-wing views.

Last year, ministers approved a change that forces opera chiefs to leave their posts when they turn 70, a move widely seen as a way to remove certain foreigners from their posts.

Florence's deputy mayor, Alessia Bettini, also spoke out against Hollberg, saying that if the city were a prostitute, “are the Florentines then the children of a prostitute and the tourists the clients of a prostitute?”.

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, senator from Florence, said that Hollberg “he should apologize or resign.”

The gallery director is the latest official in Italy to express concern about the impact of unchecked tourism, particularly in cities such as Florence – where the historic center is crowded for most of the year – and Venice.

After the UN's cultural organization warned it could lose its prized heritage status, Venice announced last year that it planned to test a ticketing system to try to control tourist numbers, which would start in April.