Italy’s tourism ministry has become the subject of ridicule due to an official promotional video aimed at enticing tourists to Italy, which features footage of individuals in Slovenia consuming Slovenian wine.
The video, part of a 9 million euro ($14.5 million) campaign produced by the Armando Testa communications group, was widely mocked by critics and on social media even before it emerged that part of it had been shot abroad.
Titled Open to Meraviglia (Open to Wonder), it uses a computerised “influencer” version of Venus, a symbol of Italian art, as depicted by Sandro Botticelli in his renaissance masterpiece The Birth of Venus.
The very modern Venus, dons a miniskirt and is shown eating pizza and presenting some of Italy’s main tourist attractions such as Rome’s Colosseum or Florence’s cathedral.
Art historian Tomaso Montanari called the advertising campaign “grotesque”, and an “obscene” waste of money, while the video was lampooned by users of Italian social media platforms.
The most controversial footage shows a group of young people smiling on a sunlit patio and drinking wine in what is presented as a typical Italian scene.
However, eagle-eyed viewers spotted that the patio in question is actually in the Cotar region of Slovenia, close to the Italian border, and the bottle on the table has a Cotar wine label.
The Armando Testa communications group was not immediately available to comment.
Italian Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche, a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy Party, called critics of the video “snobs” and said the depiction of Venus as an influencer was aimed at attracting young people.