A fight has broken out in Italian city of Venice over plans to build a museum of Islamic art on the banks of the Grand Canal, the Telegraph reports.

The initiative was announced by Enrico Letta, the prime minister of Italy, during a diplomatic and trade visit to Qatar.

Speaking in Doha, Mr Letta said his government had "made a commitment to explore the opportunity to build an Islamic museum in Venice on the Grand Canal".

But the plan was immediately attacked by the separatist Northern League, which counts the Veneto, the region around Venice, as one of its strongholds.

Luca Zaia, the governor of the region and a senior member of the League, said he found it hard to believe that the government in Rome had “money to throw at an Islamic museum” when Venice had so many other problems, with its cultural heritage under threat from rising sea levels and the crushing weight of mass tourism.