An Austrian café’s decision to name its sandwiches after Mafia-murder victims has sparked a diplomatic incident between Vienna and Rome.
Patrons of “Don Panino” of Vienna can order a “Peppino Impastato” – named after the activist killed by Cosa Nostra in 1978, who is described on the menu as “a big-mouthed Sicilian, cooked by a bomb like a chicken in a barbecue”.
Other customers with little taste or limited knowledge of recent Italian history can also a choose a “Giovanni Falcone” – named after the celebrated magistrate who was assassinated in 1992 in the Capaci bomb attack. The menu bills him as ”the greatest nemesis of the Mafia in Palermo, but unfortunately grilled like a sausage”.
Falcone's sister Maria,who tipped off politicians and anti-mafia campaigners, has called Don Panino’s menu “vulgar and blasphemous”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has, via the Italian Embassy in Vienna, let it be known that it regards the shop's activity as “unacceptable” and “offensive”.
Some Italian politicians are asking the foreign minister Emma Bonino to intervene directly. Three MPs from the centre-left Democratic Party, Michele Anzaldi, Laura Cantini and Ernesto Magorno, said in a joint statement: “We’re asking the minister Bonino to intervene and speak to the ambassador; that place offends the memory of Falcone and Impastato and portrays Italy in a demeaning way and it’s getting away with it.”
For Austria, which usually finds itself on the receiving end of Edelweiss and Kurt Waldheim gags, the situation might be the source of some bemusement.
It could be a little premature – or even a little late – for Italy to be getting hot under the collar about the tasteless names of Don Panino’s sandwiches, however.
It’s emerged that the proprietors of Don Panino are themselves Italian. Marco and Julia Marchetta opened the shop in 2009 when, living in Austria, they found that they missed their southern-Italian food and cooked up the idea of selling sandwiches “full of the delights typical of our own country”.
It was the cynical, mob-inspired marketing that has let the side down, though. Insults have rained down on the couple’s Facebook page. One Italian commentator declared: “People like you make me ashamed to be Italian.”
And Italian ex-pat Paolo Federico, who led local protests, told La Stampa newspaper that the sandwich shop appeared to have closed. He added, however, that with a plethora of other Italian-Viennese eateries boasting mafia-inspired names such as “Mafiosi”, “Camorra” and “Al Capone”, there was still plenty to complain about.