|Capri's Blue Grotto is renowned for its iridescent |
shades of cobalt and turquoise
The mayor of the tiny island, a byword for glitz and glamour, says the plan would bring in much needed revenue at a time when its budget has been slashed by government cuts.
The Blue Grotto – or 'Grotta Azzurra' – is a cavern at the base of tall limestone cliffs which is renowned for its iridescent shades of cobalt and turquoise and attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors a year.
Ciro Lembo, the mayor, wants to instal floating pontoons emblazoned with commerical logos anchored 50 yards from the cave entrance.
Mr Lembo said the bill for maintaining the island's public spaces would come to five million euros this year but the council only had four million euros in its coffers.
"Where am I going to get the missing million euros?" he said. "With the state funding cuts, we need to make money somehow if we are to offer efficient services to tourists. Many people come to Capri to make commercials and exploit the island without paying a euro."
But cultural heritage officials and environmental groups objected. "You shouldn't be allowed to make money at the expense of Capri's mythical beauty," said Nabir Pulita, the regional secretary of Legambiente, an environmental organisation. "We are completely against the proposal".
An environmental official from the regional government of Campania, Giovanni Romano, said: "You can't disfigure the environment simply for economic reasons".