He said he supported the pipeline, in part because it freed Italy from Russian influence, but he wanted it moved to an industrial zone farther north in Brindisi rather than having it arrive “on one of the most beautiful beaches we have in Apulia.”
Instead, he said, out of pure “stupidity,” the private consortium running the project put it in the only place where environmental concerns were legitimate, as was the fear of sunbathing on top of a tube carrying more than a billion metric tons of gas.
“Even if usually they don’t explode,” he said, “some explode.”
The consortium behind the pipeline has sought to allay concerns, arguing that San Foca presents the least environmental impact, including Brindisi.
“We’ve gone door to door to explain to people the reality and reassure they can put their umbrellas down like they’re used to,” said Davide-Maria Sempio, a local spokesman for the company in Lecce. “They will not even realize there’s a pipeline buried 15 meters under the beach.”
Some residents are on their side. Elavio Spagna, 77, walked out of the Grotta della Poesia, a picturesque natural pool down the road, with a bucket full of breams.
“Italy is already full of tubes all over the place,” he said. “Why not here?”
In town, across the street from the mayor’s office, Federico Giannone, 36, sold fish taken from the sea and said he worried the waters would be endangered by the project. He said he thought he had an ally in Five Star. Now, he wasn’t sure.
“Five Star was against it, and now that they are in power they are not sure,” he said. “The opinions of politicians are like the wind.”