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 Fanpage.it 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…”.