Postcard from... Varenna


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The Independent Online

If you thought only cash-rich Gulf states would consider constructing artificial offshore islands to host holidaymakers, think again.

The town council of Varenna, population 859, on the lovely shores of Lake Como, wants to build two new islands, along with restaurants, lodgings for 120 people and, of course, this being Italy, parking spaces.

Angry residents and environmentalist shouted “this is not Dubai” at Varenna’s mayor, Carlo Molteni, when he turned up to explain the scheme recently. He didn’t hang around long – but did, together with centre-right council colleagues, ensure the plan was approved the next day.

Mr Molteni, whose day job is that of estate agent, believes the development is a “strategic choice for the community’s future” and presumably for local estate agents.

Pierfranco Mastalli, of the Legambiente pressure group, said it would be “an obscene spectacle”. Fellow environmentalist Gianfranco Scotti, of the local branch of the Italian Environment Fund, said: “It would rob us of one of the sublimely beautiful corners of our lake.”

And if that is the case, perhaps Mayor Molteni ought to reconsider the proposals. After all, tourists go to Como because it is, at least now, exquisitely beautiful.