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Italy's ambassador in UK hits back at Economist over Britaly cover

Economist cover features Liz Truss with pizza and spaghetti.

The Welcome to Britaly cover of this week's edition of The Economist faced widespread criticism in Italy where the publication was accused of playing on outdated stereotypes of Italians.

The cover portrays outgoing prime minister Liz Truss holding a shield made of pizza with a Union Jack design and a fork draped in spaghetti.

"The comparison to Italy is inescapable" - The Economist introduced the edition on Twitter on Thursday morning, before Truss announced her resignation after just 45 days in office - "Britain is hobbled by political instability, low growth and subordination to the bond markets. Welcome to Britaly."

The cover image, viewed by many Italians as insulting and arrogant, follows a slew of recent articles and memes comparing the UK unfavourably with Italy.

Carlo Calenda, leader of the centrist Azione party, posted a picture of the cover on Twitter with the comment: "The fact that Italy is constantly used as a negative comparison even when, as in the UK case, the problems are peculiar to that country, is unbearable."

Later on Thursday, Italy's ambassador to the UK Inigo Lambertini stepped into the debate, stating that the cover was "unfortunately inspired by the oldest of stereotypes."

"Although spaghetti and pizza are the most sought after food in the world, as the second largest manufacturer in Europe, for your next cover we would suggest you to pick for a change from our aerospace, biotech, automotive or pharmaceutical sectors," the ambassador said.

Lambertini suggested that focusing on any one of these sectors would "cast a more accurate spotlight on Italy, also taking into account your not-so-secret admiration of our economic model".

Last December The Economist crowned Italy "Country of the Year", a recognition given "not to the biggest, the richest or the happiest country, but to the one that in our view improved the most in 2021".

Central to this honour was the outgoing premier Mario Draghi, described by The Economist as "a competent, internationally respected prime minister."

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