The picturesque playground for the famous and rich on the Italian Riviera, Portofino, could be at risk of Costa Concordia disaster as new regulations enabled large cruise ships to come closer to shore, environmentalists warned.

Italy’s largest environmental group, Legambiente, said new Coast Guard regulations would allow luxury cruise ships to come as close as 0.3 nautical miles to Ligurian coast instead of 0.7 nautical miles.

Portofino is the latest target for the organisation, which has tried to restrict luxury cruise ship access in Venice claiming they threaten to damage the fragile ecosystem of the lagoon.



Santo Grammatico, Legambiente’s regional president, said Portofino’s precious marine life in the bay surrounding the village would be threatened.

But he said environmentalists also feared that a luxury cruise ship could run aground like the Costa Concordia in 2012.

“We are very concerned both for the protected marine areas and for their value,” Mr Grammatico told the Italian daily La Repubblica.

“It is not a question of pollution, but of security and danger.  What happened with the Concordia taught us that distance should be respected.”

Portofino is a tiny resort town that has long been a favorite with the Hollywood A-list.

Rock Hudson and Clark Gable once partied there and in recent years it has attracted Academy Award winning actors Cate Blanchett and Kevin Spacey, Silvester Stallone and British singer Rod Stewart.

“The study behind the new regulation is certain to give the right balance between the need to protect the security of the passengers and environmental protection,” local Coast Guard said in a statement.

Thirty-two people were killed when the Costa Concordia struck underwater rocks close to the coast of Giglio in January 2012 in Italy’s worst maritime disaster.  

Captain Francesco Schettino was sentenced in February 2015 to 16 years and one month in jail after a judge ruled that his recklessness was to blame for the fate of the giant ship. The sentence was upheld on appeal in May and Schettino is expected to take his case to Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.