Officials of Siena, the historic walled city in Tuscany, Italy, are unhappy that their Piazza del Campo is a race course in Gran Turismo 5's new kart mode, and will demand that Sony remove it from the game.
The issue isn't just that the Piazza or the surrounding structures, the most notable dating back to the 1300s, are in a video game. It's also the site of the Palio di Siena is a bareback horse race run around a D-shaped course there since 1656. You can see in the video above the Piazza's distinctive architecture, plus the flags and colors of the 17 contrade or districts, which contest the Palio. Piazza del Campo also is used as the name of the track.
Anna Carli, the CEO of the Consortium for the Protection of the Palio said there will be a "diplomatic request" to Sony to resolve the matter, which means pulling whatever's agitating Siena. Carli added that if Sony's actions are unsatisfactory, the city may ask lawyers to seize Gran Turismo 5 at its release. The game is due for a European release on Nov. 3.
"You can not use images of Contrade, in this case the flags without authorization," Anna Carli, CEO of the Consortium for the Protection of Palio di Siena, told Corriere Fiorentino. "Given the relevance of the game with no history and references to our party, in particular with the use of images of flags of the contrade, we would not otherwise authorize the use."
It's not like the Palio is some symbol of the purity of sport; the race is notoriously brutal for both riders and horses, which frequently slip and fall on the dirt-covered cobblestone bowl of the Campo. Italy's own tourism minister has called for an end to the Palio, comparing the events to Spain's bullfights for brutality and exploitation.
So the Sienese may be pissed about a video game, but they're the side on the defensive in a violent controversy. Irony.
La Playstation Gioca Col Palio; Siena: «Sequestrate il gioco» [Corriere Fiorentino, translated to English, thanks Asdru]