ROME Italian unions have lambasted the new museum chief of the world-famous Royal Palace of Caserta for working too hard, prompting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to ride to his defense.
Renzi's government appointed Mauro Felicori five months ago to revive the fortunes of the spectacular, 1,200-room Baroque palace of the Bourbon kings, which like many of the country's artistic and cultural treasures was suffering from decades of neglect and mismanagement.
Local unions however sent a letter to the culture minister, Felicori's boss, complaining that he works late into the evening without the rest of the personnel being informed.
"Such behavior puts the whole structure at risk," said the letter, published in Corriere della Sera daily on Saturday.
In a post on his Facebook page, Renzi said the accusation leveled at Felicori, a 63-year old expert in the management of cultural sites, was ridiculous.
"The unions complaining about Felicori, who was chosen by the government after an international selection process, should realize that the tide has turned. The fun's over," Renzi said.
Visitors to the Caserta palace, a Unesco World Heritage site often referred to as Italy's own Versailles, increased 70 percent in February from a year earlier, with revenues up 105 percent, he added.
"The director is simply doing his job. And we all stand by him, without fear."
The national leader of Italy's biggest labor group CGIL, Susanna Camusso, distanced herself from the complaints against Felicori.
"Mistakes must be acknowledged and those unions are wrong," Camusso tweeted.
(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Ros Russell)