News: an island in the Venetian Lagoon used as a landfill site could be transformed into a huge theme park under controversial plans by Italian fairground designers Zamperla.
Zamperla, the company responsible for the latest rides on New York's Coney Island, plans to invest €80 million (£68 million) converting the uninhabited San Biagio island into a four-hectare park that will feature a 55-metre-high Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, other rides and an exhibition that illustrates the history and ecology of Venice.
"We're talking about the history of Venice - one of my passions - but done my way," company founder Alberto Zamperla told news agency AFP, explaining that his plans are for a cultural attraction, not just "an amusement park".
The artificial island is currently filled with waste from an incinerator that closed in 1985. Zamperla says the project will involve decontaminating the toxic site, creating as many as 500 jobs.
However the project has already proved contentious among both residents and city officials, who fear that the rising number of tourists will overwhelm the city's economy.
"We are completely against it," Matteo Secchi of community organisation Venessia told AFP. "I am not criticising the idea of renovating a degraded area. But we do not need more attractions, we have enough. Venice has other priorities. Its inhabitants are leaving, it has already become an amusement park."
City mayor Giorgio Orsoni told the Telegraph: "The environmental rehabilitation of San Biagio should go ahead, but it must be done with respect for this city. Venice is not a theme park, and everyone must take account of that."
The park, known as L'isola San Biagio, is expected to attract up to 11,000 visitors a day within two years. Without opposition it could be open by late 2015, according to reports.
Venice residents have already managed to prevent one major project from going ahead this year: fashion tycoon Pierre Cardin cancelled his plans for a futuristic skyscraper on Venice's mainland, after failing to gain support from the public bodies involved.