Italy councillor quits over ‘penis’ Christmas tree

A celebrity councillor from the town of Urbino in central Italy has resigned after an "immoral" avant-garde Christmas tree was erected in the historic centre without his knowledge.

Italy councillor quits over 'penis' Christmas tree
Outspoken art critic Vittorio Sgarbi posed naked for the cover of L'Espresso magazine in 1993. Photo: AFP

62-year-old old art critic and councillor Vittorio Sgarbi was furious when the avant-garde tree was put up without consulting him and lambasted the conical grey steel and glass structure as “a useless, immoral and ugly thing,” La Stampa reported

Sgarbi – an art critic and former mayor in Sicily who is well known for his disdain of contemporary art – became Urbino's council member for culture in June 2014 with a specific mandate to protect the artistic and cultural integrity of the town's historical centre.

But after the council put up the modern 'tree' in Piazza della Repubblica, Sgarbi accused the city's deputy mayor, Francesca Crespini, of going behind his back to install it.

Sgarbi then threatened to resign if the structure wasn't taken down and proved to be as good as his word by stepping down on Monday.

In his resignation letter, which he published on Facebook, the councillor wrote that he couldn't “share the inconsistent political choices and violations of protocol,” and called the tree “a penis that disfigures the city.”

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The new guide to Florence’s Uffizi Galleries – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Florence's world-famous galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

The new guide to Florence's Uffizi Galleries - showing only the nudes
Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is the most famous work included in a controversial new guide to the Uffizi Galleries. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The online guide to the gallieries is produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

Part of the site’s Classic Nudes series of ‘erotic’ guides to some of the world’s most renowned museums, the guide for the Uffizi lists 21 artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and the location of each piece within the galleries.

“The Uffizi Gallery is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. So it’s no wonder it has such a large collection of artwork from the era. But what you may find surprising is the sheer volume and variety of naked bodies rendered in paint, bronze and marble in this marvelous museum,” writes Pornhub.

Among the works featured are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485) and the Roman statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, dating from the 1st Century.

The guide also includes the Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538), which it calls “kinky”, and Painting and Poetry by Francesco Furini (1626), which is described as featuring “two ridiculously hot babes who just so happen to be making out”.

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Bosses at the Uffizi were not amused at the gallery’s inclusion in Pornhub’s series and have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile in Paris, the Louvre’s management has said only that it is ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay remained silent on the subject.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

The Uffizi does, however, provide a great day out for all the family and contains a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present it is operating with reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.