Andrea Bocelli claims he was ''humiliated and offended'' by Italy's Covid-19 lockdown.

The 61-year-old opera singer - who previously said he felt like he was ''living a nightmare'' when he battled the virus - claims he doesn't believe the pandemic was as bad as the Italian government said and he urged people to break lockdown and social distancing rules.

Speaking at a conference in Italy, he said: ''I could not leave the house even though I had committed no crime. I felt humiliated and offended by the ban on leaving home. I admit that I violated the ban.

''Let's refuse to follow this rule. Let's read books, move around, get to know each other, talk, dialogue ...''

Andrea also insisted the pandemic - during which over 35,000 Italians died - was not as serious as authorities said, because he personally did not know anyone admitted to intensive care.

He said: ''So what was all this sense of gravity for?''

Andrea's comments come as a surprise as he previously opened up about the harrowing experience he and his family endured after contracting a mild form of Covid-19 and he took part in a 'Music for Hope' event in the closed Duomo Cathedral in Milan in April in a bid to bring people together.

He said: ''My whole family was contaminated. We all had a fever - though thankfully not high ones - with sneezing and coughing. I had to cancel many concerts ... It was like living a nightmare because I felt like I was no longer in control of things. I was hoping to wake up at any moment.''

He also said he initially kept his family's condition private out of respect for those who were suffering from a more severe form of the virus.

Bocelli explained: ''The pandemic which has shaken the world has also affected - albeit mildly - me and certain members of my family.

''Out of respect for those for whom contracting the virus has had more serious consequences, I decided it would be best not to share the news. I certainly didn't want to unnecessarily alarm my fans and also wished to protect my family's privacy.''