A right-wing Italian politician smeared his face with black greasepaint in parliament, advising Italians to "become a bit darker" if they wanted to take advantage of the country's supposed hand-outs to black immigrants.
Northern League MP Gianluca Buonanno protested late on Wednesday that asylum seekers and migrants were given free accommodation and other benefits when white Italians were struggling to survive.
He told parliament that too much money was being given to immigrants when Italy did nothing for its own citizens.
|Gianluca Buonanno in parliament.
"At the end of the day, maybe in this country in order to achieve anything we need to be a bit darker.
"I say we can all put make-up on and make ourselves a bit darker, and then we can all go around painted black and say we want the same help that non-EU citizens get."
The Northern League has accused Cecile Kyenge, the country's Congo-born minister for integration, of using her post to "favour negritude".
Kyenge is Italy's first black politician and has experienced multiple incidents of racism, not least from the Northern League.
Its leader Roberto Calderoli compared her to an orang-utan last year. He was later charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination.
Kyenge has also had bananas thrown at her during public appearances and the political party's official newspaper has started printing her daily agenda, detailing her official appointments.
In response, Nichi Vendola, the head of the left-wing SEL party, tweeted: “Can someone tell the racists that we're in the Third Millennium and are a civilised country, despite them.
“The racists think they're in Alabama or Mississippi of a half-century ago or in South Africa during apartheid.”
Italy has been criticised for its poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers by the UN, EU and human rights groups, among others.
In October, a UN official said a boat disaster that left 300 people feared dead off the Italian coast was the result of a repressive policy towards illegal immigrants.