Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. Image/https://www.flickr.com/photos/eguidetravel/6074951763

A museum director in Florence has come under fire for branding the city a prostitute. The woman compared the city to a prostitute because it is being "crushed by tourism".

Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell'Accademia, made the remarks during a media interaction. "Once a city becomes a prostitute, it is difficult for it to become a virgin again," she told the reporters.

"Florence is very beautiful and I would like it to return to its citizens and not be crushed by tourism," the German historian added.

Adding that it is already too late now, the director said that she does not see any hope if there is not an "absolute" brake on numbers. The comments did not go down well with the locals and thousands of social media users. Italy's culture minister, too, came down heavily on Hollberg for her remarks.

The culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has even threatened to take action against her, adding that her statement is "serious and offensive" to Florence and Italy. The deputy mayor of Florence, Alessia Bettini, also slammed Hollberg and asked: "Are then Florentines the children of a prostitute, and tourists clients of a prostitute?"

Several people, including former Premier Matteo Renzi, have called for her resignation. However, some social media users came to her defence as well, according to a report in The Guardian.

A Twitter user said: "A harsh word for a harsh reality. The Italian city where I live is going the same way. The negative effects of mass tourism are bad for both citizens and visitors in the end".

Hollberg had to eventually issue an apology "for having used the wrong words" about "a city that I love".

"What I meant to say is that Florence must be a witness for all of Italy of an increasingly conscious tourism, not hit-and-run tourism," she said.

Every summer, Italy reports several incidents that result in damage to renowned works of architecture. Such incidents have often been a cause for concern for locals. Last year, some German tourists vandalised a 460-year-old landmark in Italy with football-related graffiti.

The historic Vasari Corridor in the Italian city of Florence had "DKS 1860", a reference to the 1860 Munich football club, spray painted on seven of its archways.

The vandalism in Florence was just one of the incidents of tourists behaving badly in Italy. Last year, a man claimed he wasn't aware of the "antiquity" of Rome's Colosseum after he was caught scratching his and his girlfriend's name into it. Tourists have also hurled e-scooters and driven a Maserati down the Spanish Steps in Rome.