LONDON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is mostly seen in drab-but-proper pantsuits, was spotted in a blue swimsuit over the weekend, perhaps in search of some respite from the heat of eurozone crisis.
She was caught by the cameras, clutching a lime-green towel, as she had a private dip while on a holiday with her husband on the Italian island of Ischia, famous for its thermal baths off the coast of Naples.
Her time off came after weeks of tense negotiations between the eurozone's finance ministers and Cyprus over a 10 billion euro (S$16 billion) rescue package for its banks. Germany was seen as being behind the strict bailout conditions imposed on Cyprus,
Several European newspapers, including the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, splashed pictures of her along with a caustic message from the local Italian politician.
Mr Stefano Caldoro, the president of the local Campania region, urged the Chancellor to consider the impact of the current economic crisis on those in difficulty like failed businesses and young unemployed during her Easter holiday.
"Here there are 10 young unemployed for every young one without work in Germany," Mr Caldoro said in a video message published by Italian media.
The video was entitled: "Welcome to our ever hospitable land Mrs Merkel. But now look around you" and was aired with German subtitles.
In a strongly-worded message Mr Caldoro said Italians could not tolerate a "double-sided Europe" nor anti-German sentiment.
"But Chancellor Merkel should reflect: here is a stronger country that today enjoys the benefits of the crisis from others," he said. "And this is a Europe that cannot continue."