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Italy’s new tourism ambassador is Botticelli’s Venus, brought to life by AI

<i>Ministero del Turismo/YouTube</i><br/>Venus
Ministero del Turismo/YouTube
Venus "lends her face" to tell of Italy's beauty

By Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN

It is probably safe to assume that Italian artist Sandro Botticelli never imagined Venus—the love goddess featured in his 15th-century masterpieces “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera”—eating spaghetti or wearing shorts in front of the Roman Colosseum.

But a new marketing campaign by Italy’s tourism ministry has turned the ancient deity into a “virtual influencer”—with the help of artificial intelligence technology.

The campaign, called “Open to Wonder,” features Venus, dressed in modern-day designer clothing, taking selfies in St. Mark’s square, riding a bicycle in front of the Colosseum, and eating pizza on the shores of Lake Como.

“A Venus in the role of a modern influencer will lead every international visitor by the hand to discover our country,” the announcement from the Ministry of Tourism promises. “We welcome Botticelli’s iconic Venus, who lends her face to tell of our beauty, from the most famous big cities to the most hidden corners of Italy.”

The campaign, a collaboration between the tourism ministry and the National Tourism Agency, will feature on social media, with an animated Venus winking at her followers under the Instagram handle @venereitalia23.

In one Instagram post she channels modern influencers with sexy poses. Some are computer-generated, while others feature a human model whose face is never seen but who has the same long, wavy hair. “I’m 30—ok, maybe just a little bit older,” Venus says. “I’m a virtual influencer.”

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