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Italy: Ferrari event closes tourist landmark

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image captionThe Ponte Vecchio... without the suits

Florence closed its famous Ponte Vecchio for a night - apparently without notice - to allow Ferrari to host a corporate dinner.

Mayor Matteo Renzi claims the city needs the 100,000 euro hire fee for its coffers. But the move disappointed tourists and frustrated locals, who were blocked from crossing the bridge for several hours on Saturday. Both sides were cordoned off, as tables were set out for the event. The newspaper La Repubblica reports that no notice was given for the closure, which the mayor's office says was a question of discretion for the numerous multimillionaires who attended. Many had security guards.

It's not the first time Ferrari has hired a Florentine landmark, having used the cloisters of the city's Santa Maria Novella church for a dinner at the end of June and contributed 20,000 euros towards its restoration. Renzi argues it's important to attract potential investors to the city. "I'd do it again, despite the controversy," he wrote on his website, adding that the sum the city had earned from Ferrari was equivalent to a recent funding cut to a holiday programme for disabled children.