Travel | April 30, 2023 6:54 pm

Italy’s Venus-Themed Tourism Campaign Is Facing Some Pushback

Old and new combine on an Instagram account

"The Birth of Venus"
A visitor takes a video with her smartphone of Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" on January 21, 2021 at the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Tuscany.

If you’d like to see Sandro Botticelli’s 1485 painting The Birth of Venus in person, you’ll have to travel to the Uffuzi in Florence, Italy. Countless people do so every year, and it isn’t hard to understand why — the painting is both visually opulent and continues to be a source of visual inspiration for many.

There’s a slightly challenging element to that last quality, however. A tourism campaign centered around the “Venere Italia” Instagram account — that’s Italian for “Venus Italy” — has turned Botticelli’s Venus into what one post described as a “virtual influencer.” And, as Sigourney Schultz at Hyperallergic reports, not everyone is thrilled with an iconic painting being portrayed as a selfie-taking influencer offering reasons why people should head to Italy.

Schultz describes a number of angry commenters expressing their frustration with the campaign on Instagram itself, as well as the mayor of Florence, who isn’t thrilled with it. Hyperallergic’s article also quotes art historian Livia Garomersini, who said that the campaign features “a narration that trivializes our heritage in the most vulgar way, transforming Botticelli’s Venus in yet another stereotyped female beauty.”

It does prompt one question, though — will this tourism campaign involve the circa-now Venus eventually taking a selfie with the 15th-century Birth of Venus in the background? And if so, will that cause art history itself to implode? There’s only one way to find out.