Its tightly packed, pastel-coloured houses and yacht-filled harbour make it one of Italy’s most picturesque villages, but Portofino is in revolt against demands that it accommodate a group of migrants and refugees.
The village, which sits on the Italian Riviera and draws celebrities such as Beyonce, Kylie Minogue and Elton John, says it simply does not have space for the asylum-seekers.
The exclusive enclave’s resistance to the settlement plan is emblematic of dozens of Italian towns and villages which have protested against taking in migrants and refugees, as the government tries to manage a seemingly unending crisis with scant help from the rest of the EU.
Italy is struggling to accommodate tens of thousands who wait months, sometimes years, for their asylum applications to be considered after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.
Portofino is one of 24 villages in Liguria which have been told they need to accept 700 migrants in order to ease overcrowding in Genoa, the capital of the region in Italy’s northwest.
Genoa is struggling to care for 2,500 migrants – twice as many as it is supposed to accommodate under a national plan.
But the majority of the towns on the list are balking at the resettlement plan.
“This is a really important tourist destination and we just don’t have spare accommodation,” said Matteo Viacava, the mayor of Portofino.
“The waiting list for residents who are waiting for council housing is already very long.”
While Portofino says its refusal has nothing to do with prejudice or xenophobia, other towns in Italy have succumbed to a much harsher tone.
Racist graffiti was daubed this week in a village in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna that is destined to take a group of young asylum seekers from West Africa and Bangladesh.
“Breno says NO to blacks and the invasion,” read the graffiti in the village of Breno di Borgonovo, where the migrants are due to be accommodated in a former school.
Petrol bombs have been thrown at an empty hotel in the northern city of Brescia, also due to be lived in by migrants.
Last year the pretty hill-top village of Capalbio on the coast of Tuscany, which for decades has been the haunt of Italy’s Left-wing politicians and intellectuals, protested over a request from the government that it take 50 migrants.
Like Portofino, locals in Capalbio said the medieval, walled village was simply too small to accommodate so many asylum seekers.