Thousands of tourists flock to Italian lake to stroll on a 1.9-mile floating art installation

23:01 | 21.06.2016
Thousands of people stepped out onto artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff's latest work in northern Italy on Saturday and Sunday, seizing the chance to 'walk on water'.

The project, titled 'The Floating Piers', cost 15million euros ($16.7million) to create and is made up of 200,000 floating cubes covered in orange fabric.

It is currently floating atop Lake Iseo, connecting the village of Sulzano to the small island of Monte Isola on the lake. 

The most eager fans of Bulgarian-born US artist Christo, as he is universally known, camped out the night before the attraction opened to be the first to step onto the three kilometre (1.9 mile)-long runway.

Around 150 people were posted on the walkway to ensure safety while 30 lifeguards were on hand in the event of an accident.  

Several of the first visitors to experience the installation removed their shoes to better appreciate the 'physical project' that was first conceived in 1970 but has taken until now to come to fruition.

Others sunbathed on the pontoons while braver souls dived head first into Iseo's dark green water.

Agata, a 12-year-old girl, told Italian media: 'It's like being on a boat, it sways, it's fun.' 

Her family had driven overnight from Bergamo to arrive at the installation in time for dawn.

The number of visitors reached a peak after lunch on Saturday with a long queue snaking toward the project's entrance.

Several people queuing were taken ill as they waited under a baking sun. 

More than 55,000 visitors attempted to cross the walkways on Saturday, forcing organisers, who had anticipated just 40,000, to ask that they return another day.  

Christo himself advised his fans to visit another day and ordered that shuttle buses to nearby car parks should make fewer trips.  

Local authorities have also cancelled train services to the lake to limit the numbers able to reach the project. 

Organisers were also forced to order temporary evacuation of the installation on both days after wind and rain made it unstable. 

After being closed throughout Saturday night, the project only partly reopened Sunday morning with one of the two walkways still closed to the public. 

The walkways can only hold 11,000 people at any one time - and only if weather conditions allow. 

A manager at the installation said in a statement: 'Given the influx of people and potentially bad weather, it is advisable to rethink your trip.'

The project will only appear on the lake between June 18 and July 3 but will be free to the public, day and night.

Organisers expect it to attract 500,000 visitors by the time it closes. 

Roberto Maroni, Lombardy regional president, said: 'It's a great feeling, I am very satisfied with the result which is the product of cooperation between all the organisations that have guaranteed the safety of all of those wanting to walk on the water.' 

Christo first rose to fame along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude for their eye-catching wrapping-up of famous landmarks like the Pont Neuf across the Seine in Paris in 1985 and Berlin's Reichstag in 1995 - a project which took almost a quarter of a century of bureaucratic wrangling to get off the ground. 

He first conceived The Floating Pier in 1970 for the River Plate delta in Argentina but was thwarted after failing to secure the necessary permits.

Despite the long delay in realising his vision Christo said on Thursday that the project, his first since 2005, 'stayed in our hearts'. 

Follow us !

Новости партнеров