Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






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Out of Palermo

Letizia Battaglia interview in Italian

February 16, 2017

Tags: Franco Maresco, interviews, Letizia Battaglia, palermo, hope?, doubt?, nostalgia, mafia, blood, streets

Palermo director Franco Maresco interviews Letizia Battaglia, photojournalist who took the most iconic photos of the Mafia wars in Palermo during the 80s.


Taking on the Mafia: AL Jazeera documentary about Palermo

September 1, 2016

Tags: palermo, mafia, justice, sicily, italy, al jazeera


Sicilian judge Antonino Di Matteo is one of the most threatened - and protected - men in Italy. As the chief prosecutor in Italy's "trial of the century", he has more than 20 bodyguards, ensuring his safety around the clock. On trial are 10 men who stand accused of being part of a conspiracy between the mafia and the state. Five of the defendants are mafia bosses and five are members of the political establishment.

Mafia boss Bernardo provenzano is dead

July 14, 2016

Tags: Bernardo Provenzano, mafia, boss, head, dead, jailed, solitary confinement, murders

From The Guardian:
Bernardo Provenzano, who has died aged 83 in a secure hospital, was the former boss of the Corleone clan, once the most vicious and voracious of the Sicilian mafia families. He had been imprisoned in solitary confinement since 2006, serving a number of life sentences for murder.

Provenzano was credited with rescuing Cosa (more…)

A thousand candles in his memory at Chiesa di San Domenico

May 23, 2016

Tags: giovanni falcone, mafia, antimafia, murder, collusion, state, alone, vulnerable, false antimafia

Thousands of students from all over Italy converged on Palermo to commemorate the death, by murder, of anti Mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone who gave his life in the fight against the Mafia. He was killed in Capaci on the road from the airport, with his wife and police escort, by a bomb planted on (more…)

Tough job

April 29, 2016

Tags: palermo, crime, cops, police, crowd, encircle, prevent, capture, burglars, escape, shots, fired, air, gun, tough, job, support, mafia

From this morning's La Repubblica.

Residents of La Kalsa, the ancient Arab-founded neighborhood of old Palermo and several businessmen helped a burglar pursued by police to escape. The police were encircled by the crowd and the thief got away with 10,000 euros he and three others had just robbed from a market (more…)

Palermo's solidarity with wounded immigrant; mayor at head of protest march

April 9, 2016

Tags: immigrant, bulling, mafia, wounded, gunshots, The Gambia, Mayor, Leoluca Orlando, protest, racism, immigration, africa, palermo, sicilia, sicily, incident, march

A young man from Gambia was peacefully talking on a street corner with friends from his native Gambia when a mafioso-type jerk from the neighborhood came up to them and started insulting them. Usually, the immigrants will turn and run. But Yusupha Susso, a 21-year-old Gambian stuck up for himself and for his friends. (more…)

Volunteers to fix apt confiscated from Mafia

April 6, 2016

Tags: volunteers, mafia, Albegheria, Santa Chiara, Addio Pizzo, poor, poverty, family

The city has given two apartments confiscated from the Mafia to needy, homeless families. But the apartments needed lot of work. So volunteers from the anti-Mafia association Addio Pizzo ( Goodbye, Protection money) and the mission of Santa Chiara put on a fund-raising dinner that brought together unemployed construction workers, architects, tradesmen and donors. A woman immigrant who had been helped by the mission volunteered to cook a dinner from her own country. Together they will fix up the apartments in a hurry before squatters can move in.

Italian Judge breaks up families to save children from the mafia

February 26, 2016

Tags: Judge, mafia, children, family, break, chain, ndragheta, calabria, generations, jail, death, abuse

And that's not easy because the family as the basic unit of Italian society is built into the Italian constitution. This judge says it is abusive to bring a child to mafia meetings, indoctrinate him for entry into criminal organizations, and reduce his life's horizons. That it is just as much a crime as giving a child a syringe or a kalishnokov rifle. Read the story in English in The Guardian by clicking on the caption.

Mattarella today unveils copy of Caravaggio's Nativity, stolen in 1969

December 12, 2015

Tags: caravaggio, stolen, Oratorio, san lorenzo, palermo, sicily, art theft, heist, replacement, copy, Presdent Matarella, mafia, 1969

The theft of Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence from an oratory in Palermo in 1969 is still considered one of the worst art crimes in history.
The 17th-century masterpiece – a depiction of the newborn Christ on a bed of straw, painted in the chiaroscuro technique – was thought to have been painted by Caravaggio in Rome and later moved to Sicily, where it hung for centuries before being cut from its frame by two thieves in the night, never to be seen again.

6 major mafia arrests this morning

December 11, 2015

Tags: mafia, vote, boss, crime, arrest, police, murder, kiss, forehead, election, Santa Maria del Gesu`

Chilling headlines in La Repubblica today.
Through spy cameras and microphones hidden all over the city, Sicilian police learned that the oldest mafia clan in Palermo, of Santa Maria del Gesu` on the city's east side, had just elected a new boss. The brief, intense election season was a sign to police that the (more…)

Destroyed Liberty masterpiece may be reproduced in situ

November 30, 2015

Tags: ernesto basile, architect, Liberty style, art nouveau, architecture, treasure, destroyed, mob, mafia, reconstruct, palermo, sicily, urban, recoup, culture

Two young Palermo architects have proposed recreating Ernesto Basile's Liberty masterpiece, Villa Deliella, according to the original blueprints which still exist, and to make a museum of it. The idea has the support of politician, art critic and entertainer Vittorio Sgarbi. The art nouveau masterpiece was destroyed over a weekend in 1959 during the Sack of Palermo by mob types who wanted to clear space for their concrete high-density retail/ apartment buildings. From Best of Sicily magazine: (more…)

Mass quantities of confiscated Mafia loot

November 23, 2015

Tags: confiscated, loot, mafia, law, judges, sicily, italy

3,000 companies, 12,000 properties and €2bn in bank deposits. Read all about it here in the Guardian in English. Now I have a better idea of the temptations that tantalized Judge Saguto, stripped of her duties and salary as Palermo's head minder of confiscated Mafia property. Click on the caption to read the Guardian's story.

Dead man walking

November 12, 2015

Tags: pentito, mafia, provenzano, chauffeur, state's evidence, witness, testimony, witness protection program, Ficarizzi, clan, mob, family, danger, death, murder, threat, what a life

Stefano LoVerso,, for years the chauffeur of Mafia kingpin Bernardo Provenzano, turned state's evidence and was put into the government's witness protection program in a city in northern Italy. LoVerso had to leave his family behind in Ficarizzi. He said in this exclusive interview with a La Repubblica reporter that if the Mafia can't get you, they will get at the family you left behind. He has a wife and children and he decided to come back to Sicily to live with and protect them until he meets his own death, which he fully expects. The protection program cannot protect you if you come back to Sicily. LoVerso says it is the bosses who should be exiled. He knows they will get him, he just doesn't know when. "The mafia doesn't forgive," he says. Imagine the stress and ulcers of living like that! Interview in Italian.


[Sigh. Working on getting the embed code to work. Meantime, here's the link to copy and paste:]
http://video.repubblica.it/edizione/palermo/il-pentito-in-bicicletta-che-sfida-la-mafia--non-lascio-la-sicilia-se-ne-vadano-i-boss/217730/216926

Corrupt Judge Suspended from Duty, Salary Cut off

November 3, 2015

Tags: silvana saguto, judge, corruption, mafia, confiscated, goods, business, power, greed, woman, malfeasance, abuse of office, shady deals, favors, recommendations, almighty, god

A Palermo judge accused of corruption and abuse of office was suspended from duty today and her salary taken away. Judge Silvana Saguto, who headed the Palermo Tribunal's office in charge of confiscated Mafia goods and businesses, was caught on tape saying she was "like God Almighty." Jobs are scarce in Palermo. When a Mafia business (more…)

Police video of extortionist at work

October 31, 2015

Tags: pizzo, protection money, clan, mob, mafia, payment, thug, police, spy, microphone, caught on tape, arrests, carabinieri, greengrocer, palermo, sicily, sicilia, italy, crime, collaborator, danger



The mafia charges monthly protection money even from traveling street vendors, like this guy who sells produce from his three-wheeled (more…)

In Memory of Paolo Borsellino, a real hero who knew who his real enemies were

July 19, 2015

Tags: paolo borsellion, slaughter by state, mafia, palermo, prescient, poster, death anniverserary, murder, isolated

Anti-mafia judge Paolo Borsellino, who was murdered 23 years ago, knew the risks and said so.
The text is from Judge Paolo Borsellino's red diary, the "agenda rossa" which he never showed to others and which he always kept on his person. It disappeared from the site of the bombing in Via D'Amelio which left Borsellino's corpse limbless. It says:
"They will kill me but it won't be by mafia vendetta, the mafia doesn't indulge in revenge. Maybe it will be mafiosi who physically kill me, but the ones who will have wanted me dead will be others."

Palermo commemorates anniversary of murder of anti-Mafia Judge Paolo Borsellino

July 19, 2015

Tags: death, murder by state, mafia, multiple homicide, via D'Amelio, palermo, commemoration

It's Sunday, as it was on this date 23 years ago in Via D'Amelio, Palermo. But this time the street is not deserted and isolated like the one that awaited the three autos carrying Paolo Borsellino and his escort. A speaker's stand, flags, colors and many people await the minute, 4:58 p.m., in which a (more…)

Mafia stronghold given to scouts today

June 23, 2015

Tags: altarello di baida, palermo, mafia, scouts, italy, confiscated, andreotti, matarella, assassination, collusion, state, mafia, pre-Riina

The first property Judge Giovanni Falcone confiscated from the mafia in 1980 will be given officially to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Italy today, although they have been camping and working here for years. The rual compound also contains a qanat and a sirocco room which I visited with Geologist Dr. Pietro Todaro. The (more…)

How Falcone Died

June 3, 2015

Tags: photo, foto, strage, Capaci, 23 maggio 1992, falcone, veicoli, esplosione, bomba, explosion, highway, assassination, kill, mafia, judge, hero, martyr, inevitable

How he was killed.
A photo of the explosion site on the highway in Capaci, between the airport and Palermo town. Date: 23 May 1992

May 23, 23 years ago, Falcone murdered by the mob and Italian state

May 24, 2015

Tags: falcone, mafia, palermo, assisantion, murder, judge, investigator, maryr, antimafia

Falcone and Borsellino
Giovanni Falcone and his escort , Francesca Morvillo, Vito Schifani, Rocco Dicillo and Antonio Montinaro, were blown up by the mafia by 500 kilos of explosives on the highway between the Palermo airport and town. I had just returned to the states from Palermo and had been on that road after reporting on that spring's Favignana (more…)

Mafia park goes to the dogs, and cats

May 16, 2015

Tags: kennel, rescue, Palermo, falsomile, dog, cat, clinic, mafia

Park land confiscated from the Mafia in Falsomiele outside Palermo will become the new home for hundreds of ownerless dogs and cats, according to a report in today's La Repubblica. The 27,000-square-meter park will include a place for the dogs to runa and play, a first-aid clinic and an operating room.

mafia wins one

March 23, 2015

Tags: mafia, pizzo, no pizzo, vucciria, palermo, sicily, siclia, italy, damage, threats, piss, urinate

From La Repubblica/Palermo edition of 22 March 2015.
A restaurant owner has given up and decided to move out of the Vucciria market area and night life hub of Palermo after a bonfire on the Eve of Saint Joseph's Feast (March 19) practically destroyed his business and put his customers and staff in danger. (more…)

Italy's New President a Victim of the Mafia

February 1, 2015

Tags: mafia, mattarella, palermo, ucciso, fratello

Today Sergio Mattarella, who in 1980 pulled his dead brother, Piersanti, then President of the Sicilian region, from his car, was elected President of the Republic of Italy. Yes, if you lose your brother to dirty assassins, you are a victim. A man from the south, one who has shed tears because of the Mafia, is now at the head of the country. (more…)

Pizzo

March 13, 2014

Tags: pizzo, racket, protection money, mafia, addio pizzo, palermo


Pizzo is the Sicilian word for protection money, which most businesses in Palermo still pay monthly to the mob. (more…)

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