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Italy wants to eliminate iPhone 'home of Mafia' app

The What Country iPhone app is upsetting the Italian government, as it describes Italy as the home of "pizza, mafia, pasta, and scooters." Italy's minster of tourism demands its removal.

2 min read

There is surely no easier job in the world than that of Italy's minister of tourism.

You are responsible for the most beautiful country in the world, one with the finest food, charmingly well-adjusted people, and a sense of style that influences every living soul. Even your cars don't rust any more.

So why, oh, why would Michela Vittoria Brambilla be getting so worked up about a mere iPhone app? The app, called What Country, is clearly trying to improve international relations.

Its blurb offers: "Want to see the world from a variety of angles? Interested to know what are the common believes (sic) about your own country that the rest of the world shares? Explore and discover funny, strange and exciting peculiarities of various countries around the world with What Country app!"

"Funny," "strange," and "exciting." These are surely words that might describe Italy. Well, "strange" and "exciting" for sure.

However, the fair minister (she is, indeed, a former beauty queen) is objecting because the app suggests Italy's most striking characteristics are "pizza, mafia, pasta, and scooters." This is in contrast to, say, Germany, which is allegedly most famous for "beer, discipline, and autobahns." Or America, which is, very charitably, identified with "melting pot, hamburger, the American Dream."

What Country app

The Telegraph suggests that the minister has her pasta in a twist. It quotes her as saying, "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 organization."

It says the minister is demanding that Apple remove the app or several men with large stomachs and guns will wish to dine with Steve Jobs at a deserted trattoria in New Jersey.

Perhaps I exaggerate about the "dinner with Steve Jobs" part. However, the minister has reportedly "asked the state attorney's office to take legal action against those responsible" for the app.

The app's creator, Apalon, does helpfully mention that its app is meant to be amusing. "Stock up with a good sense of humor and start exploring the funny vision of the World!" its marketing offers. Moreover, Apple's ratings give it a 4+, in other words: "Applications in this category contain no objectionable material."

Some might wonder whether humor is entirely beyond the minister's conception.

For example, some find Italian actor Roberto Benigni funny. Others would prefer to converse with vegetation than watch one of his movies.

Some might consider that Italians' enthusiasm for their dreadful brand of soccer approaches an exalted level of humor.

And some might imagine that when Veronica Lario, wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, declared she was divorcing him because she was "fed up with him associating with minors" and described her husband as "not well," that was funny.

You see, that's the thing about humor. It's frightfully subjective. Which is why some might wonder whether the minister has something better to do than hunt down iPhone app creators. Like watching "The Godfather" box set, for example.