ROME (AP) -- A plan by the Italian premier to adorn the Group of Eight summit this summer with ancient bronze warriors now housed in a museum hundreds of miles (kilometers) away is worrying art officials and angering citizens.
Officials in Reggio Calabria said Monday that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to move the 5th century B.C. Riace Bronzes from the National Museum there so world leaders can marvel at them during a summit in July. The three-day summit will be held on La Maddalena, a tiny island off Sardinia, about 400 miles (650 kilometers) away over the Mediterranean Sea.
"Not everybody is in favor of sending the bronzes" to the summit, said city spokesman Antonio Latella.
Since the pair of 6.6-foot- (2-meter-) tall sculptures was fished out of the sea off Riace, Calabria, in Southern Italy, in 1972, locals have been possessive about the treasures, one of Italy's most impressive underwater finds.
Calabrians have long resisted calls to remove the pair of naked, bearded bronze warriors from the museum in the remote city for display in some larger city that draws more tourists.
Since Berlusconi's plan was floated last week, polls have shown most Italians oppose the it. Thousands have joined Facebook groups with names like "Hands off the Riace Bronzes."
The Corriere della Sera daily newspaper quoted Reggio Calabria's archaeology superintendent, Caterina Greco, as worrying that the bronzes could be damaged.
Latella said Mayor Giuseppe Scopelliti was considering the proposal but would ultimately follow popular sentiment. The spokesman noted that the city, in a referendum, vetoed a plan to display the bronzes in Athens for the 2004 Olympics.