Stefano Stefani, an Italian junior minister responsible for tourism, has refused to apologise for the anti-German slur.

“We know the Germans well, these stereotyped hyper-nationalistic blondes, who’ve been indoctrinated from the beginning to feel top of the class whatever the situation,” wrote Stefani in a letter last week published in the La Padania newspaper.

Germans “loudly invade” Italian beaches, eating pasta, while criticising Italy for mafia killings, wrote Stefani.

The newspaper is close to the Northern League Party, a coalition partner in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

Berlusconi's only reaction to the news that Schroeder would not be visiting Italy for his vacation was: "I'm sorry for him".

German-Italian ties have been strained since Berlusconi compared a German member of the European parliament to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Schroeder accepted the Italian Premier’s regret for the remark. The German Chancellor has spent his summer holiday in Italy on a number of occasions.

German disapproval


"...these stereotyped hyper-nationalistic blondes, who've been indoctrinated from the beginning to feel top of the class"

Stefano Stefani,
Italian tourism minister

Two senior German ministers urged the Italian government to fire Stefani.

“If I was the leader of the Italian government, this man would no longer be in office,” said Interior Minister Otto Schily, on Germany’s ZDF television. 

Sour relations between the two countries have prompted a spate of appeals from Italian officials for millions of Germans to go ahead with vacations to Italy’s renowned beaches and cities this summer.

Rome has distanced itself from Stefani’s comments.

Italy’s European Affairs minister said in a German radio interview that Stefani “must give us a satisfactory explanation”.