A provocative statue of a curvy mermaid is making waves in the southern Italian town of Monopoli.
The voluptuous artwork sits in a new square in the Puglia town called Piazza Rita Levi-Montalcini – named after a Nobel prize-winning Italian scientist.
It was created by students from the Luigi Rosso art school in Monopoli after a commission from the local municipality and is located near to a children’s playground. It is part of a €350,000 (£310,000) redevelopment of the area.
Adolfo Marciano, headteacher of the Luigi Rosso art school, said the statue was a “tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy”.
“The students got together and came up with the idea of a mermaid,” Mr Marciano told The Guardian. “The council was shown the scale model and said it was good, and then decided the completed sculpture would be placed in the square.
“You see adverts on television with models who are very thin, but the mermaid is like a tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy, especially in our country. It would have been very bad if we had represented a woman who was extremely skinny.”
The statue has understandably roiled social media, with equal passions being raised for and against it. “But who could have inspired this,” asked one Twitter user. “Kim Kardashian?”
Tiziana Schiavarelli, an actress from the nearby city of Bari, wrote on Facebook that a friend from Monopoli had been “rightly perplexed” by the monument.
“At first glance, it doesn’t look like the image of the famous scientist. It actually looks like a mermaid with two silicone boobs and above all the hugest ass ever seen on a mermaid. At least the ones I know.”
Ms Schiavarelli concluded by saying she didn’t “mind the authors of the work, nor the municipal administration of Monopoli” it just “amuses me a lot. Who knows, maybe it will become a tourist attraction?”
That sentiment was echoed by a Monopoli local on Twitter, who revelled in the town’s unexpected fame: “Monopoli in all the newspapers for a big-ass mermaid, that’s us!”
The statue is yet to be formally unveiled.