Environmentalists in Italy have appealed to actress Sophia Loren to help stop a cruise ship named in her honour from ever entering the Venice lagoon.
The MSC Divina (Divine), which the actress christened last month in France, is a 139,500-tonne ship that can carry 3,500 passengers and nearly 1,000 crew.
It has a first-class suite named after Loren, which is decorated with pictures of the Oscar-winning actress at various stages of her film career.
In an open letter to the Italian screen legend, a group called the No Big Ships Venice Committee says such ships pollute the air.
The letter adds that their vibrations and the lapping waves caused by their wakes hurt the foundations of historic buildings.
“Venice and its lagoon are both world heritage sites and risk an environmental disaster every day because of the passage of these monsters of the sea,” it said.
The protesters say that as a legend in Italy and around the world, they cannot believe Loren would want to be associated with a ship that contributes to the destruction of Venice.
“We are asking you to give up your role as godmother of the ship. Venice and the world would see that as a divine gesture,” the letter said.
“Venice belongs to the world. Help us save it.”
Since the wreck of the Costa Concordia last January, environmentalists have stepped their efforts to have large cruise ships banned from the lagoon which surrounds the historic centre of the canal city.
The Concordia capsized off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio after it hit rocks. At least 30 people were killed and two are still unaccounted for.
That disaster put the spotlight on the Venice lagoon, perhaps Italy’s most delicate maritime area, which big cruise ships enter to drop off passengers conveniently close to the historic centre and the Grand Canal.
Italia Nostra (Our Italy), the country’s leading conservation group, has also long been opposing the entry of large cruise ships into the lagoon.