Thousands of visitors walked on water today when they visited Bulgarian-born artist Christo's latest art installation, "The Floating Piers," on Lake Iseo, 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Milan.
Despite a forecast of thunderstorms and the threat of closure, over 10,000 tourists arrived early in the day to experience the 4.5-kilometre walkway made up of floating pontoons, covered in 70,000 metres of iridescent orange-yellow fabric that stretches between the town of Sulzano on the edge of the lake to Monte Isola and San Paolo islands.
The installation was opened last Saturday and local authorities had expected around 40,000 visitors a day. But 97,000 came on Wednesday alone.
By Saturday, Mayor of Monte Isola Fiorella Turla said half a million people had visited, and he expected the flux to continue.
Made of some 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes covered with shimmering yellow fabric, the piers have suffered more wear and tear than expected.
While some visitors were more than enthusiastic, others complained about the lack of services.
"It is certainly an experience to remember, above all because of the sensation you feel when you are walking on it," said a smiling tourist from the Italian Veneto region, Oriolos Solano.
"Disorganisation reigns supreme. The transport is unacceptable, queues and queues, very few connections and never any information between the boats and the trains," said disgruntled visitor Riccardo Venanzi.
Emergency services were on hand to spray cooling water over the crowds and hand out bottled water.
Christo, along with his wife Jeanne-Claude who died in 2009, have completed some 23 installations including the "Wrapped Reichstag" in Berlin in 1995, when the artist wrapped the German parliament in silvery foil, and "The Gates" in New York's Central park in 2005, where vinyl gates were planted along 37 kilometres (23 miles) of pathway.
All the works of art are on display for a limited period of time. On this occasion the Floating Piers is open at the time of maximum light in the area and will run for two weeks.
The installation took two years of planning and cost 15 million Euros ($17 million), paid for by the artist himself.
It runs until July 3, 2016 and is free to visit.