The director of Florence's Galleria dell’Accademia, Cecilie Hollberg, recently sparked controversy by comparing the city to a "prostitute" due to the overwhelming impact of mass tourism. This remark about Florence has ignited a debate on tourism's effects on the historic city.
Hollberg expressed concerns over Florence's transformation and loss of character, citing the replacement of local shops by tourist-focused businesses. She apologized after receiving backalsh and clarified her intent to promote sustainable tourism. However, her initial analogy was met with widespread disapproval.
Italy's Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano described Hollberg's comments as "serious and offensive" and hinted at possible legal action. Florence's Deputy Mayor Alessia Bettini criticized the comparison for its implications for the city and its residents.
Separately, Matteo Renzi, former Italian prime minister and now a senator for Florence, added his voice to the criticism. Renzi asserted that Hollberg should either offer an apology or consider resigning from her position.
Nonetheless, Hollberg's remarks have brought attention to the broader issue of uncontrolled tourism in Italy, particularly in cities like Florence and Venice. As a matter of fact, Venice is set to introduce a ticketing system in April to regulate visitor numbers, following a UNESCO warning about its heritage status.