Floating Piers Project on Italian lake closes

Artist Christo's orange floating walkway on a northern Italian lake will close Sunday after attracting over a million visitors, twice as many as expected.

Floating Piers Project on Italian lake closes
Christo's creation attracted an average of 100,000 people a day, and up to 120,000 at weekends. Photo: AFP

The three-kilometre (1.9-mile) undulating path made of 200,000 floating cubes has proved a major hit with the public since it opened on Lake Iseo in June.

Covered in bright orange fabric, the pier stands in stark contrast with the dark water as it links the small islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo to the shore.

“People come from everywhere to walk to nowhere. Not to shop, not to meet friends, they just walk, to nowhere,” said the Bulgarian-born American artist, who once wrapped Berlin's parliament in fabric.

Visitors from around the world have flocked to try “The Floating Piers,” many of them going barefoot to get an idea of what it feels like to walk on water.

Local officials said Christo's creation attracted an average of 100,000 people a day, and up to 120,000 at weekends.

Shuttle buses from nearby carparks and trains from the closest big town, Brescia, were often suspended in order to keep the crowds manageable.

The installation, made of completely recyclable plastic, cost €15 million ($16.7 million) to create but has been free to the public.

Last month an Italian consumer group said the huge cost of cleaning up after the visitors and ensuring their safety raised questions about whether it should have been allowed.

While Christo had promised a 24-hour sensory experience, the local authorities at one stage closed the exhibit at night in order to allow for cleaning.

There were dozens of medical interventions each day, including some that required hospital treatment.

A medical post had to be set up to handle those overcome by the crowds or merely from waiting their turn in the heat.

But it could be the weather that spoils its final day on Sunday, when rain is forecast. Wet weather has already caused the temporary closure of the orange bridge on several occasions.

“Given the anticipated numbers this weekend, visitors should be prepared for wait times and the possibility of not making it on the piers due to capacity,” the organisers warned on Facebook.

Christo first rose to fame along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude for their eye-catching wrapping-up of famous landmarks like the Pont Neuf across the Seine in Paris in 1985.

A similar project at Berlin's Reichstag 10 years later took almost a quarter of a century of bureaucratic wrangling to get off the ground.



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.