Italy’s tourism minister has demanded that Apple remove the What Country app from its online store after the travel guide described her country as home of “pizza, the Mafia and scooters”.
Michela Vittoria Brambilla, described the app as “offensive and unacceptable”, and has threatened legal action against its developers, Apalon of Belarus.
She said: “Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. I cannot allow our country to be discredited by having it represented by a criminal organisation.”
“For this reason I have asked Apple to withdraw the application from sale on its online site and asked the state attorney’s office to take legal action against those responsible for it.”
The application, which can be downloaded to iPhones, iPads and iPods, uses words and images to summarise a nation. Italy is show with a road sign which reads “Mafia parking only”.
Germany is described as “beer, discipline and autobahns”, whilst Britain is labelled a land of “tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain”. China is summed up as “overpopulation, kung fu, Great Wall, Tibet and tea ceremony”.
The iTunes website describes the app as “a light- hearted and funny view of the world” adding that “This is not a travel guide and should not be taken too seriously. Enjoy and have fun!”.
But many Italians failed to see the funny side. “This application is an outrage!” wrote one reviewer on the iTunes site.
An Apple spokesman in Italy declined to comment.
Miss Brambilla, 42, is a former beauty queen who is a close ally of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. She also hit the headlines this summer when she suggested that Siena’s famous Palio horse race, in which jockeys race bareback around a historic piazza, was cruel and should be banned.