The French and Italian relationship has deteriorated markedly since the formation of the Italian coalition government in June 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron is also at odds with the Italian government’s other coalition deputy, Matteo Salvini who heads the right-wing Lega party.
Macron was sharply critical when Salvini blocked ports to prevent the landing of a stranded migrant ship and has previously said that populism in Europe was spreading like “leprosy,” a comment seized on by Rome as a direct insult.
In January, at the height of Gilet Jaunes protests, Salvini said he hoped the French people would soon be able to “free themselves of a terrible president,” encouraging voters to favor French far-right politician Marine Le Pen.
The petulance has even spread to a major doubt over whether Italy will loan France some works by the artist Leonardo Da Vinci for a commemorative exhibition. Da Vinci, an Italian, moved to France where he died.