Fury as shop uses blind tenor in ‘never seen’ sales ad

A clothes shop in the Vicenza city of Bassano del Grappa has sparked outrage after using an image of the blind tenor, Andrea Bocelli, in an advert to promote its sales period.

Fury as shop uses blind tenor in 'never seen' sales ad
Tenor Andrea Bocelli has been blind since the age of 12. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP

The banner, featuring Bocelli alongside the slogan “Saldi mai visti” (sales never seen), appeared on the window of the shop, TcB, to mark the start of the discount period on Monday.

The advert immediately sparked a flurry of condemnation across social media, while Bassano mayor Riccardo Poletto said it was “out of place” and vowed to report the incident to local police.

But shop owner Alessandro Di Villari, who had a defamation case brought against him in 2012 when he used an image of Italy’s former prime minister Mario Monti in a similarly provocative advert, insisted he had not intended to offend Bocelli.

“We were playing to the double meaning,” he told Corriere del Veneto.

“And we had no desire to offend Bocelli, who has a sense of irony.”

But commenters on the Facebook page of didn't see it that way.

“Honestly, I do not see the irony,” wrote Sarah Lopresti, while Mariagrazia Cutuli said: “As usual, bad taste needs to be conquered.”

Bocelli, 57, has been blind since the age of 12 due to congenital glaucoma and a blow to the head while keeping goal in a football game.

Di Villari has refused to take the banner down, saying the shop “is accustomed to criticism”.

Indeed it is. In 2012 the shop ran a Christmas campaign in which it used an image of Monti, who led a government of technocrats amid Italy’s debt crisis between 2011 and 2013, alongside the slogan, in English: “Wear for motherf…”. 


Italian fisherman ‘throws migrant worker overboard’ to evade police

The captain of a fishing vessel was arrested in Italy on Tuesday after allegedly throwing one of his crew overboard in a bid to stop police finding the undocumented worker, who could not swim.

Italian fisherman 'throws migrant worker overboard' to evade police
File photo: Depositphotos

In a sting dubbed “operation chains”, police slapped Andrea Caroti, 46, in cuffs and accused him of illegally hiring a Senegalese worker and ruthlessly pushing him into the sea off Tuscany in June last year.

“The man, saved by a lifeguard who spotted him thrashing about in the water, told his rescuer that the captain had pushed him into the sea for fear of the coast guard, which was carrying out checks,” a police statement said.

Caroti had knocked him overboard “despite knowing he wasn't able to swim and save himself,” the statement said.

The Livorno police and coastguard said the Senegalese man disappeared after telling the lifeguard his story, but they were able to interview witnesses. The victim had been threatened by Caroti, they said.

The captain is accused of regularly exploiting undocumented workers on his fishing vessel, making them work “backbreaking shifts for €10 ($12) a day, as well as a modest amount of fish”.

Migrants who work in appalling conditions are not a new phenomenon in Italy, though it is believed to be the first time a fisherman has been arrested for exploiting undocumented workers.

Thousands of migrants, largely from Africa, scrape by as farm workers in southern Italy, where they often live in disused houses, hangars or abandoned factories with no running water, electricity or heat.

They start out picking tomatoes in Apulia in May and end up in Calabria harvesting citrus fruit the following March.