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2014-04-02 | 🔗
The Sicilian Mafia: A True Crime Travel Guide is the first book of its kind in any language: the ultimate Cosa Nostra experience. Since 2006, author Carl Russo has photographed Mafia hotspots on the Italian island of Sicily: where  murders happened, where the godfathers lived and their victims buried. From the sunbaked fishing villages of the Mediterranean to the darkest alleys of Palermo, western Sicily is the exotic backdrop for over a 100 meticulously researched tales of murder and mayhem, with 200 photographs of the actual locations.They include the childhood home of gangster Lucky Luciano, the hideouts of the fearsome bosses of Corleone, the tombs of the "Robin Hood" bandit and the legendary dons, the roots of the American and Canadian mafias, the Allied landing, pistol-packing priests, political assassinations, playgrounds of the new Mafia and even the anti-Mafia movement.Whether you're planning a trip to Sicily or sticking to the comfort of your armchair, this provocative book will take you closer to the Sicilian Mafia than you dared to think possible. THE SICILIAN MAFIA-A True Crime Travel Guide-Carl Russo
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Talk, radio. You are now listening to true murder, the most shocking killers in true crime, history and the authors that have written about them. Gacy Bundy, Dahmer, the night stalker Btk every week, another fascinating author talking about the most shocking and infamous killers in true crime, history, true murder, with your host journalist and author Dan Zupansky good evening, Yeah true crime travel guide is the first book of its kind in any language. The ultimate closer Nostra experience since two
and in six lives is all about being there day in day out, The AAA thanks you for being there with loyalty, rewards like when you get savings on AAA Auto insurance, just for being a AAA member, and when you switch to AAA auto insurance, you could save more based on how long you've been a AAA member and how long you've had your current insurance insurance. That's not just insurance learn more about AAA. Auto insurance and loyalty, rewards click now or visit triple a dot com, slash insurance author, Carl Russo has photographed Mafia hot spots on Italian island of Sicily, where murders happened where the godfathers lived and the victims are buried in the sun baked fishing villages of the Mediterranean to the darkest valleys of Palermo. Western Sicily is the exotic backdrop for over one hundred, meticulous research, tales of murder and mayhem with two hundred photographs: the actual locations. They include the child
home of gangster lucky Luciano. The high of the fearsome this of Corleone that, news of the Robin Hood Banded and the legend three dawns, the roots of the, canadian mafias, the allied landing pistol, packing priests, political assassinations, playgrounds of the new mafia and even the anti mafia movement, whether you're planning a trip to Sicily. Or speaking through the comforts of your arm chair. This provocative book will take you closer to the sicilian mafia. Then you dared to think possible the book we're featuring this evening, is the sicilian mafia, a true crime, Travel guide with my special guest journalist and author Carl Russo. Welcome to the probe. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Call Russo, Hey Dan, thanks for having me on, I appreciate it. Thank you very much a very interesting book and and jam packed with information. So let's get right to it.
I understand that you operate a bought, a blog called mafia, exposed and so tell us a little bit about your background and and tell us what compelled you to write this book, the sicilian mafia, a true crime We'll guide. You know I never really have been a crime boss in in the classic sense. As a kid, it was gone. Father fever. The godfather movies by Francis Ford Coppola were out and I could do it all. I was only old enough to see those on television, so I you know that was my idea of the sicilian mafia anytime. There was a tv variety show, they'd, be a comic spoof of of the God. Father films in that. That was all I know, but it was everywhere. So at that time I read the velocity papers and I read Vincenta- raises life in the mafia, and I found them interesting, but that was it I didn't, anything after that. I lost interest.
And it really wasn't until I started going to Sicily on a regular basis just because I love it because it was cheap to travel there and it's just so endlessly fascinating. With all the day different cultural remnants that are there from the Millenia all the various conquerors from different con and in different countries. Foreign powers that took over Sicily but as the more I started going, the more I was reading up on the history and just the recent news Obsessively I realized wow. This is silly and Mafias Villarreal thing. It has nothing to do with Tommy engine can strike, suits there thing very glamorous at all, but it's. There and I got a whiff of it in Palermo, right away. When I started going in nineteen, ninety nine. IKEA Sou on
Yes, he went in in nineteen. Ninety nine and you've been back every year, but what brought you to the desert into I mean even to the to the blog mafia exposed. Apparently it has something to do with the book it at least it's related so tell us about the blog and so well. Is it again about your your interest? Well, the genesis of the whole project came in two thousand and six. It was my third or fourth trip over to the aisle and a week before I arrived, they caught the number one most wanted fugitive in ITALY, the Sicilian Godfather Bernardo Provenzano. This was April two thousand and six they. And he'd been on the run since one thousand nine hundred and sixty three and the circumstances under which they fell on we're so strange that was recorded, cheese, making hut in the Mount
things that overlook korleone. You know, which is a reference of course, to not just the movie but the Mario Puzzo Book and The story was so bizarre when they caught him rushed in they busted down this this little hut and there were posters of religious icons saints everywhere. He had bibles that were annotated. He had crucifixes around his neck and he was smiling like a saints himself and He was so strange that it made headlines everywhere, but of course, in ITALY that was the news, and so I went to track down this this little hut, which took a couple of days of bugging some of the people around Corleone in because it's not the easiest thing just being outside and want to ask about these things. I finally found it kind of past some police that were guarding the street and got some photo
use and also on this trip. While I was there, I had been reading about the famous bandit Salvatore Giuliano. He was gunned down sixty years ago, but the circumstances were so strain is there too it's one of the great mafia. Mysteries bandage has a long history in Sicily, but this was the famous Robin hood bandit who had worked with the mafia and was possibly killed by the mafia and I wanted to see the low cation, where he had been gunned down. At least one of the police story. The original police story how he was gunned down, Or perhaps he was gunned down or killed elsewhere and his body was laid out here for journalists to come and photograph photograph it. It was all such a strange to Even get to the bottom of what happened with him, but that I wanted to go and see the location, because it was.
Laboratory Juliana was also a film. That was by grace filmmaker, Francesco Rosi, who actually shot in the locations and use some of the people that had died in a massacre that Giuliano had fomented so so make a long story short. I realize that there really was no book of this kind, that featured the actual locations another thing for my youth is that I always really enjoyed going to cemeteries and that sort of thing at taking photographs. In my hometown, in northern California, taking photo rap recording names going to the library and looking up on microfilm who these people were from a hundred years ago, and so it all kind of came together. I thought this would make a the book, the more I got into it, the more I realized there wasn't even a list of these locations. So this actually
took me six or seven years, not just to find the locations, but just to find a reference in various articles online or going through court transcripts or looking through the various scholarly books on the mafia and actually going to try. Going down so took took a long time and the book is finally here. Yes, it is, and and two hundred photographs and just incredible photographs in this book tell us about Sicily for those that don't know, and we all don't low enough about Sicily and it's important to the mafioso in Coso Nostra. So tell us about Sicily and why? Sicily, as you say, Sicily still important today, but tell us about the origins of Cosa Nostra? over a hundred years ago and tell us why Sicily, I was so important to that story.
Right, well, it has everything to do with this location. It's right in the middle of the Mediterranean and it's right in middle of all the ancient profitable trade routes, the shipping routes, so that you had the ancient Greeks in the ancient Romans that used it conquered. Yes, conquered its people practically in them, because by the time the Arabs it came and conquered Sicily, sort of modernized. Some of the farming you had the under their yoke having to raise the crops and give them up To their overlords, you had the Norman conquest around a thousand ad, as time went on, everybody had a piece of Sicily, the French, the spanish as part, what is now at northern ITALY. So to this
Williams. There never really was a local, legitimate form of authority. It was always some absentee government that pass the laws that they had to live under, and you know the foreigners that they were exploited under so local authority, it sort of fell to the local strong, but but they're owning of a village who you just sort of became corrupted, because he did have so much power that people would take their dispute to him or he would oversee some kind of a transaction end up taking a. Cut. So this figure kind of hit to be the middleman between the people of Sicily and the far off government, particularly in the 19th century, and you had feudalism. You had some pretty brutal conditions starving conditions on the island, Even though extensively feudalism
was outlawed in the early 19th century. It considered an practically into the 20th century. But you had a guy that would be this. Sort of the overlord of the farms the estate for the absentee landlords. It would be. They called him the gab a lot, though he would be on horseback generally always had a shotgun keep the residence in line and had a propensity for violence and pretty soon he actually got powerful enough that was able to steal away or into the the landlord into giving up their lands to him through the through violence as well meanwhile in the prisons, and not just the systole, but also around the Naples area of study mainland, ITALY. You have an incredible recruiting ground there, because you had mafia bosses boxes that may have been imprisoned for some various crime.
Thrown in the same dungeon with cut throat and the various rip off artists, and so they were actually able to sort of put together local clan. So when they got out, they had quite enforcement on the streets for their own benefit. Right. So it really does sound like the mafia. Already, when you talk about the wrangled, the land from the landlord himself. That sounds very much like the way the equation works once organized crimes involved in your business right now. Of course, the general definition of the mafia has to do with protection racket, which is what makes them different from other kinds of criminals right.
Scholar, Diego Gambetta says that is the defining trait of a mafia group is that they actually have a protection racket. It is socially extortion. That's been from the beginning, the the the framework over which they in recent selves and control the local people right to this day and for Definitely, Sicily still is a place where the majority of the merchants have to cough up cash to the local family. Family. The local bus will send around and is that thought that the tax collector? generally once a month and they have to you, know cop up several hundreds of euros or you know, depending on how profitable the businesses, but we're talking not just shopkeepers but car dealerships, hotels and restaurants and gas stations. It's still a problem in when the police, the government is actually great
cracking down on this, but there's always another guy that wants to move become the boss and take over the racket. There always arresting would be racketeers extortioners. Right now. Fortunately, over the last decade or fifteen years, you have a pretty strong and growing anti mafia movement. So now You do have the merchants standing up to these threats. There's great group, and I recommend them in my in the introduction to my book group called ideal. Pete sell ideal piece so means goodbye to the pizza, the pizza being the payment that these very smart have to give to the crime, family, so there's a list online of the merchants about
thousand of them. They had sworn not to participate and give up any mount any more money to the extortion. That's the and a big part of my push for this book. Is it it's not just the you know for the true crime fan and it wants to read about bloody murders. But it's also has an anti mafia tone, because a lot of the figures that I profile in the book over the last one hundred years- stood up to the mafia at a time when nobody was standing up to the mafia, guys that generally dirt poor peasants, that. Decided to rally them and take over some of the farms that were promised them by the land promised by the government. They were. There were some laws that would have give even unworked land baron lands that were still controlled by the mafia to those farmers
Wanted to work it so every village it seems in the interior of Sicily, has a favorite son who was assassinated by the mafia. I will generally go into these villages. Find a house, or at least find the tomb or the monument photograph that and that's sort of my little contribution to. This incredible island, which I love so much tell us about the Area for picking the stories and the the corresponding photos It did go along in your book, so the material that you included in your book who's, your criteria for picking it in the first place first, All I had to find a location on which to hang. The story and that was always a challenge, especially because,
You just don't go around and ask questions about it that I actually kept without GPS either. At home online. I would find an old archival newspaper article and that print out the little photograph of a blessed day building. Let's say it was the home of a certain Bob but there was no information about it. What no address so I would on these little cards in this two ring binder. I skotch tape 'em in and write down as much information about the location. Maybe a pizza was mentioned But a lot of times I would have to go and take this photo
and drive around in a rental car up and down these little winding alleys or match it up to the mountains. In the background, in some cases it took two or three trips before I found particular locations, others I never found so unless I could put it in the form of a tour guide which this book really is it's kind of laid out car tours. Then you know some things I had to give up. Another challenge was pulling them together because we're talking about writing. Two hundred different personalities here on both sides of the law and put in the mall into some kind of a narative strain, the two
pressures, were always geography versus narrative and how to put it all together that way. So I guess my main criteria was geography. First, tour tour guide, travel guide, first and narrative second, because a lot of these figures criss crossed time and space. You know it, he had something to do on this in Palermo, the capital city, but they came from the Interior and connected to somebody on the other side of the island, but I should say in fact that the book is strictly. The act is strictly covers the western half of Sicily, because that's why? Where all the real momentous and most infamous events in its history in the mafia's history of taking place from the rise, the rural agrarian mafia, on through the takeover of
by the Corleonesi mom that the mob from Corleone name all the horrible assassination of up 70S through the early 90s pizza connection heroin refineries that started sprouting up in the 60s and 70s heroin that made its way to the east coast? Pizzerias, you probably familiar with I to go back. To you ask the question about my blog before I knew for sure that this was going to be a book in twenty ten. I started logging and put in a lot of these photographs online and it hopes of Forming it, it is something but also trying to get some publicity for it. So there are, things that didn't make the book that are on the blog mafia exposed dot com. So there's my little plug there, you go. If you sorry
So now we have the Three, your research and through this narrative that you're you're telling the story. It is quite need to have this perspective, conveyed in terms of your position, which is anti mafia. So that's quite unique in writing this book. In gathering any of these stories was there any resistance? Was there any criticism? Did you meet? Have any interest encounters, close encounters will say with somebody that was not so happy that you're doing this, we generally, when you show up in It doesn't matter whether it's a big city like Palermo or and a little hilltop village, because in the interior, you just have these tiny little beautiful villages on top of a hill and the fast that planes in between
always stick out. You know they know when you're not from there and there's a think, can just a natural cure. Curiosity, because these are some really small towns, Also, you have to realize that unemployed being so high joining a ma. Mafia. Gang is not irresistible, but I mean You know it's. It's very easy for a poor young kid to just want to join up So wherever you go, there are just young you guys hanging out watching, and you know I definitely don't want to characterize the Sicilians being all mafia, because it's a very, very small percentage that have anything to do directly with the mafia aside from being shaken down by, factor. Sicilians are very wonderful and warm people, but you know they do kind of keep to themselves
but no matter who they are all eyes are on you on you so around the camera, with a zoom lens and that kind of thing you know it's it's difficult. What I would often do parts really heavily mob infested neighborhood. I will wait till Sunday morning when everyone still asleep or whether they're going to church generally, that's the only time when you could find the streets completely empty. So when I'll get my shot, it's real tough. I also had a real tiny camera, my girlfriends camera, in fact, for drive bys, which would be like trying to get a picture of the prison which you're not supposed to do and couple of hideouts that were sort of set up along streets that had tall walls and really mazelike. It was really stressful couple times I hopped out of the car, let
left the car running. My knees were actually shaking, as I took the pictures of one mafia bosses house hot back in the car, and took off so yeah it it was even get, is perhaps all the way over. There was nothing easy about this project. Yeah yeah, you did extensive research is amazing, like I say, going back two or three times just to be able to locate certain place that you wanted for this book. So it's very interesting. I tell us about Sis Lease and the cause and no stress importance to the. In terms of its importance in the world. Well, this is the yin mafia, pretty much introduced, for instance, America and a lot of Europe to Herald
You know some of the old godfathers which they are. They have nothing to do with junk. They wouldn't touch MA, wouldn't take care when, but in fact the mafia has always been just rolling in in one product early, as in nineteen. Thirty, that you had to Joseph one analyst, that kind of it a pioneer in that you had hair when starting to come from the the french system, the corsican refineries, but the Sicilians they're, great innovation, which really cause a a wave of heroin dependency. Junkies, junkie, culture, for instance, in New York, sprang up in in the 1950s, really is a direct result of million, mafia when lucky Luciano with that who who wish to sell yen. Where is that blasted and imprisoned in for prostitution? You win with the Expo
ordered him. They kicked him out and they sent him back to ITALY and that's when he actually got the original Sicilian interested in heroin. He had a big some, a mafia convention, as it were in downtown Palermo where he got to get there are all the godfathers and he brought a coterie of his own italian american gangsters, along with them and sort of got them going on importing Asian Heroin, refining it in north western Sicily, you had a lot of refineries that were set up and among the orchard, the or orange or orchard and so forth, and then shipping it across the Atlantic. You handle a lot of the the big names that in
the connection. Gaetano Badalamenti comes with tiny little village outside of Palermo, but he was a real instrumental in sending across all of this heroin. I not the Gambino family of New York and some of the Allen Toronto godfathers who actually came over from southern Cicely themselves. It was a room, it's a very profitable and world changing crime. You know the FBI got bald ultimately, and even in his late in the nineteen eighties, Rudolph Giuliani was pretty instrumental in in working with the italian government in this up. But now this is Cillian mafia. As a result of all of the crackdown on both the US and the italian side is lost control of the international drug scene
and it it's some of the other italian mafia groups, the mainland, ITALY who have kind of taken over you have camorra of Naples and you, but I mafia of collaborative the southern most part, the toe of the boot of ITALY call the Enron gets out in fact it just a couple. Months ago they had a big bust. They found a reverse pipeline going. They were actually still involving the New York Gambinos exporting cocaine from South America into the big port. In southern mainland ITALY. In Collab Rea. There were a few sicilian mafioso that were involved with that, but that would just kind of shows It was no longer 'cause and also the thing with some of these other mafia groups that have eclipsed the sicilian mafia right. What about with the recent appear
Toto, Riina, podcast to murder. Total Rena is probably the most murderous of all of the sicilian mafia gangsters, He is from Korleone. He rose to the top when his over boss, Luciano Leggio from Corleone. It was imprisoned in the 70s Toto Riina had a threesome or foursome group of bosses from Corleone E Rab,
we'll be brutal. The soon took over the Palermo Mafia, which was you know, no easy thing, because that was a really hard core mafia. There we had the bone, tired, a group working with the. Instead, he low group in three lows were inter married with the New York Gambinos, and so they were very powerful and fishing corrupting mob, but through here violence and through here, what's very tactical brilliance Toto Rina. He was able to put hit his in my rival mafia groups against each other so that they were killing off each they're, not even realizing that arena. Was behind it. He was, I don't want to be psychotic because he always there was always a method to his men.
But he really was. Is he he's in prison? Now it's pretty brilliant guy, which is not the state Britain, you know, but he's anyone that it he someone anyone to admire. So in the 70s and the 80s, you had these mafia wars going on. It's also a time when some of the greats Anti Mafia prosecutor's, under the leadership Rocco Chinnici setting up the anti mafia pool at the Palace of Justice in Palermo, and these guys working on their own, some of these investigators prosecuting judges are putting together a lot of the bank records and finding out
hundred permission with with out really the blessing of of the rebel government. In Rome they didn't even get a computer, but they actually start to arrest some of the bosses. Based on their findings. You had the famous maxi trials of the 1980s, where they rounded up four hundred plus mafia bosses? Maybe you've seen photographs of some of these trials where the bosses are in age is around this courtroom. Arena that was built underneath the old prison in Palermo, big bomb proof bunker. They put him on trial, convicted them sentence, imprison them this made Serena, who was still a fugitive, so outraged that he just log the war on the government. He started ordering the assassinations of police officers and judges, journalists Antimafia active,
anybody that stood his way. He mowed them down and we're just talking. In addition to probably one thousand items of the mafia wars, you have this new campaign of assassination. That is just horrific so that by one thousand nine hundred and ninety two in spring is ordered the assassination of the two top anti Mafia prosecutor's Giovanni Falcone E and Paolo Borsellino, brilliant man very much beloved in ITALY. They were both blown up by bombs, horrific horrific massacres and the italian people worse, so shocked and demoralized that it real he became the beginning of the anti mafia movement mean.
Well to Dorina is living in luxury secretly in a villa in downtown. Palermo he's got his wife from the old country Leone and he's got four children that, even though he was on the run all these years, they managed to get birth certificates and church baptism, but he still fighting the government parliament in Rome past some very tough laws, restricting the communication that a mafia boss could have once he's in prison famous, Lock called article forty one b, two years for some of the more anti mafia politicians to push this thing through. So this put the clamp on these mafia bosses that were imprisoned, so they can no longer conduct business as usual. You know which
through visiting attorneys and visiting relatives, so Rena is still on the warpath, and this is around the. Time where a couple of police officers allegedly go into negotiations with the mafia and other people want to continue on subject here. Subject sure something that's going on right now and it's a series of trials that are taking place across ITALY having to do with Collusion between the mafia and the government, the part of the government that would somehow get total arena to see his at campaign of massacres. So shall I continue- or you sure, have
question no cake, just it's it's just if, if Silvio Burst, Colonias involves a you mentioned that well, yeah. He certainly is simply because yeah. Let me let me take a break in and and just mention that we're still give you better scrawny the three time Prime Minister of ITALY, formally and and his status right now he was tried for a mafia crimes of mafia associates, I should make that clear about a year ago and found innocent of that charge. He was found guilty of tax fraud, for which he was sentenced to four years. He is not seeing any prison time, nor will he ever he's just too powerful is ITALY's richest man and still owns so much media but he's he was also right. Now he's fighting charges of abuse of office having to do
the Bunga Bunga parties and underage hookers, and all that stuff. The new That makes it over to the states here. However, his very good friend senator in his political party, Marcello Shallow DE was found. City of Mafia Association was sentenced to seven years in prison. Now over there. If you get sentence that doesn't mean you're going to serve it. So he's appealing that and he's to free to roam right now, but what the court had found a based on testimony of various turn. Former mafia members that have ratted out the former clan, this much Shell Andelu tree, the Ex senator set up a meeting way back in nineteen. Seventy four between Silvio Berlusconi and the top mafia, drug kingpins step-
we know Bon Tatic and the reason for this meeting was so that better Schoni could shovel a whole bunch of cash to the mafia in exchange for protection as Bellusco knee builds up his construction empire at the time and then later is media empire. So you have these real tainted pool. Cases right now. They, it goes even deeper than that with some of the connections having to do with that. A masonic lodge I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but there definitely a close connection between some of the politicians and some of it. The mafia bosses, the system, Okay, so back to the more recent history you had to two police officers, they were pretty elite
officers of the carabinieri, which is at least militarised state police force. That approached a politician in Palermo. A very powerful politician mean veto. Champs me know he was a short time for He was a mayor for a short time, but he was also more significantly the czar of public works. He passed out hundreds of building permits to Mafia, controlled construction companies. They remade the face Palermo with all of these apartment buildings tore out all the greenbelt and some of the beautiful old mansions and parks downtown Palermo got filthy rich is one of the top mafia, so chiots without being a mafia boss himself. So these guys go. These two officers go into some kind of secret meetings.
With video the amino to me. Now I asking them: how can we contact the mafia? How can we get them to stop all these horrible assassination, and this was about ninety two, like I said right after Bocconi endorse the lino. Were assassinated, and so allegedly you have some meetings going on between change. The mean of the politician and total partner is not just Nina's partner, but not exactly is under boss, it was sort of the lesser of the two headed snake from Corleone E, and so some of the meetings take place in Benjamino's villa in Rome. His son gets involved, who wrote a very good book about this. It also claiming a lot of the same things of the mafia. So evidently. Arena draws up
a list of demands in exchange for a ceasefire change Amino Son delivers it to these two police officers who, by the way, have denied everything there. Still on trial. These demands that arena comes up with a pretty ridiculous too. He wanted to release a bunch of boss, is he wanted all of their assets returned to them. He wanted to kill article forty one be the law that cut off their communication whole lot of nonsense. There's no way the italian government would go for you at this time and also have Rena beginning the things that this is not going to happen. This deal is going to fall through and so so by a year later, one thousand nine hundred and ninety three. He starts ordering bye comes to be blown up. Mainland ITALY so You had some of the other up and coming bosses who are still powerful today, such as
Matteo Messina Denaro that who's the number one most wanted fugitive planting bombs. You some of the landmarks on mainland ITALY in Rome, Florence Milander blowing up sections of churches in art gallery just sort of his way to move this thing along it's its been fairly recently that that this idea that some kind of secret pact, with right being attempted in secret, that you know the court trying to keep it all straight here, because it is so labyrinth thing, but at any rate there, so so many trials going on right now having to do with this, the color let EVA or the deal that we're not sure where it's going to go, because you have so many various players mafiosi see, yes things. Meanwhile, Toto Riina
been silent for like two dozen years now behind bars, suddenly five ending up on hate. There was a I feel like I'm filibustering, so stop me, because I could go on and on about this This is very interesting because it shows us that arena has not really changed at all. They put a boss in his cell, so it was sort of a I was passing through another mafia boss from a separate mafia group, turn. Mainland mafia called the soccer Corona own into United sacred Crown and for some reason: arena spills, his guts to this boss and the investigators got it all on tape and one is saying we have to have like new of massacres, just like
little days in Palermo. He started bragging about blowing up or Rocco Chinnici the original founder of the anti mafia pool in the 1980s. He says: we've got to make a dance Essomba again and he says start calling them. Tuna fish, which I found kind of humorous is that tuna fish was always the old mafia euphemism for victims, guys they wanted to kill, which hearkens back through the ancient. Cillian practice of beating the Hell out of tuna in the oceans by the fishermen. Stab him and beat him and bloody the waters, so At any rate, we know that took arena is not reformed. He's still very Just in fighting the government his way, which is through assassination, and he's serving so many sentences now so many life sentences that help will always be in prison. His partner better. Now the Provenzano
It's failing in health, but has some serious problems. His family is trying to get him out of prison based on humanitarian causes, humanitarian reasons because of it Health a lot of times, they'll release an older prisoner who's, sick into house arrest. But because these guys had such. It's an abomination in ITALY. It doesn't like I'll ever get out of prison. So that's that's where these guys stand now now in your book. You cover one hundred and fifty years, and you include, like you say revolutions and and politics and wars and popes and virtually cover one hundred and fifty years of important history. I was going to say is that.
What did you find in terms of the how influential they were in terms of politics and and the war and everything involved in that one- that hundred fifty years of history, I was important how important it was the mafioso that close in Austra to all those events. Well, in fact, one of the best ways that the mafia came up with to stay in power was to absolute control, local governments and over the years work its way on up through straight into parliament in Rome. It's very easy to corrupt politician, as we all know, I'm speaking from San Francisco, where Senator Leland Yee corruption having to do with the localized Chinatown scandal and guy by the name of shrimp boy chow, if you're following in either
news about this. It's always been a politician, but over there the Christian Democrat Party was that particularly corruptible, because you these were guys it either they came. They grew up the the mafia. The way you would corrupt a politician would would be to finance. Basically, you could promise them the votes of your people. In fact you could you can actually tell us politician that you can deliver pretty much the majority of the votes of the entire area in exchange for political favors, letting up boss get his hands on The some of the development money that comes through there was a lot of redevelopment money being sent to the south because it always been.
Quite a bit behind as the rest of ITALY, and Europe was modernized, So not only could a bus siphon off some of those funds coming in but also be in charge of the high airing. Now, if you control the hiring on the building of a hospital or the building of a bridge, you pretty much own the town, because everyone is beholden to you. In fact, that's why the number one fugitive I mentioned Matteo Messina Denaro to this day is still kind of considered zero in his hometown? Sometimes reporters go in an interview, some of the locals there and they I see is a god because he gave them a job or gave their nephew a job in the super get through which he was laundering money in that sort of thing, so If you you mentioned the war. Of course, there are a lot of stories about how, after moose Laney rid the island of the maffeo, see that were in power
you had the allied invasion, one thousand nine hundred and forty three, the Yanks in the Brits coming in chasing off the lingering nazis, at seven, in removing the mayor's that war, fascist and suddenly re installing some of the old mafia godfathers who had either been mayors or just the forty figures. Under a lot of direct connections with with the the Us Army and some of the mafiosi, there was Curls House Poletti who is in charge of civil affairs, getting things back in order right after the war. Actually right. After the defeat of Fascism Mussolini, he set up his headquarters in a hotel in downtown Palermo, his Trans it was Vito Genovesi, the italian american gangster and pulled out.
The parties that were attended by Mafia bosses Jennifer, he did great during the war. He took a lot of Sicilian. We Console sold it on the black market in Naples, so, yes, Uncle SAM I did have a hand in bringing back the mafia after the war. And how strong you we talked earlier about how the mafia different italian groups other than because Nostra have taken power, but overall, if there's an anti mafia movement, that pervasive everywhere in ITALY and in other places as well, but tell us how strong that Anti mafia movement is in terms of being successful, combined with process successful prosecutions over the last say twenty five years or so
Well, because the government is actually gone on the offensive I have rounded up so many of the big boxes, but they did that really at the behest of the people, because after this horrible assassinations of the nineties, but you had italian so fed up, they took to the streets. They marched. They hung sheets from their balconies with anti mafia slogans. That was unprecedented, but there were just so angry so frustrated and felt that the government was either in cahoots with the mafia or totally impotent that they just practically demanded it of the government. And so that's when you started finding that certain merchants or businessmen who stood up to the mafia suddenly finding support in the people, because for so long guys were killed because they refused to cooperate or give up
some of their money to the mafia. There was a real sad case of a guy name. Leave it oh Grasty. I met his brother in Palermo, who still runs the same textile factory. That Leberro did. He just absolutely was adamant about not giving up anything to the local mafia and, of course he was threatened, they're always threatened, but he was killed on their photograph of the spot. In my book, that back then, these guys were isolated. You know they knew that they were probably going to die for doing this, but they stood up anyway, just on principle. Now you have groups of citizens that will go and support emerge since the top anti Mafia prosecutor right now, Nino Di Matteo
has been threatened. In fact, he's one of the names that Toto Arena was caught on tape, saying that he wanted to assassinate make him dance the samba well, you have what they're calling it a civil escort, civil bodyguard, so in Palermo right now in front of the Palace of Justice you often see a line of people that are standing there with signs in support of Nino De Matteo. In fact, the citizens are trying to they're pushing for a bomb jammer to be given to him and for some reason, there's some resistance higher up in the government A bomb jamboree is a hummer like vehicle. Not a hummer, but it looks like one and it would actually just sort of render any remote controlled bomb inoperable just jam it that often how some of these politicians have been. If
Made in the past, so you really just find a lot of support. There is also resistance to you find that some of the tribute some of the memorial some of the statues that are commemorating anti mafia figures being defaced. In fact, yesterday or the day before Giovanni Falconi, the anti Mafia prosecutor assassinated in ninety two who's. Marker is in the middle of the p otsa, where he grew up as a boy he used to play soccer. Somebody tagged it spray painted all over. It makes me so angry. Little things like that, which sounds like a small thing,
It makes all the headlines over there because it's really such a great insult to these guys news at soccer player Fabrizio me coldly who was caught on tape or or we get it the circumstances. But he was also dissing Giovanni Falconi, saying with. He was fungal which it is not, but when you say fine go it's more like you know s h, I t it He got kicked out of the Palermo soccer team and he still playing for and mainland team, but at any rate, it's a great insult over there to actually disrespect some of these guys and to even you know, makes humorous comments about the Mafia there's. You know, I'm not sure how my book is going to go over there because so far been
off the radar, but I think that with a title like the Sicilian, mafia, true crime, travel guide, it has the potential to be read. Is something exploitation over stuff? The you know over there, they're quite upset about some of the mafia, seemed pizzerias Spain. There was something in Vienna that actually the pizzeria that had menus pizzas name, There're sandwiches named after some of the mafia victims, but they did it in such a jokey way that it was really disrespectful. I haven't seen anything about Godfather pizza over there. Yet, but it's a very sensitive issue because you know, not only are they very embarrassed by the mafia, but they just feel that the time is now just put it behind them. You know get rid of the mafia and bring some sense of normalcy back to ITALY, and this.
That is an interesting. You know, tide that has turned in terms of are coming a long way to that kind of defines because you have to be extraordinarily courageous, like you say, you're taking your life in your own hands when you stand up to these people at all, and that's really amazing to me to hear people go to the streets and one and defy these people basically. So it is a interesting development that, despite their their power in over a hundred years of dominance, that you know that their time is, maybe you know it's not a great time for a mafioso member. I don't think
it's not their golden age anyway. No, but at the same time, because it's always been such a lingering presents and society over there, you do have opportunists that want to take over the racket. Take over the neighborhood and there they keep trying there. Maybe. Two assassinations on average per week. Excuse me now not per week per month that make the news and oftentimes it's two guys, on a scooter. They just come and blow him away right in broad daylight. This is generally in some of the seedier areas Palermo in other cities, no. I have I spoken of tonight about how fantastic this lease to visit for mature stand standpoint. You really never sees any of this stuff because it is such a
beautiful place, but there is that under current and it's going to take awhile, it really will now you just alluded to that. Tell us about the beauty of that really is on display in this book within the photographs are just amazing photographs, so people will have to if they want to go to your bed, They can take a look at some of the photos, but so tell us really about as a tourist what they could expect in terms of the visual feast that they would have Are going to be quite diverse, and you have your really tony luxurious areas, the resorts a Tara, Mina, Schaefer, Lou beaches are fantastic one for all the hard work that this project was. It took me to places that I never would have gone
on my own in it, I never saw any tourists of these old baroque villages with the the classic old church right right at the top of the hill Reading it's lonely belt. You know it! Yes, the time when it that the streets are completely empty in this untouched by tourism. He still speaks decillion in these villages, even the kids. Instead of a time in which the I do speak, but it's hard to understand billion, there's just so much to see there are If you go in spring, you have the hills covered in red covered in yellow purple from the wild flowers. Thank you so, incredibly beautiful. You can't believe that this is the land of such violence, especially in the interior like that, but, of course, from a touristic standpoint, you also have
the ancient Greeks samples that are in better condition than anything you'll find in Greece. They're like four complexes of these greek temples that are just amazing to see. One of my favorite areas is a is a beach in the southern city of I'd, be gentle and it's the they call it. The turkish steps, which is a beautiful natural formation of it the norm, is that it sort of tumble into the sea white. There's there's so much to see just said from the museums of Palermo. I think one of the biggest draws to Palermo's, actually one city over up on the mountain. And called monorail light, which has any norm, Christ figure inside the dome. That's the done in the mosaic with actual gold in it. It's so huge, it's absolutely honest with your religious or not so
really endless- and you know that's not even mentioning the food which is so unique over there generally, based on on fish and seafood. And the desserts that cannoli in and all the pastries they do. These amazing little almond, pastries in the shape of various fruits, will play apples and oranges. It's endless. I always rewarded myself. After driving endlessly all day sweating. Looking for various mafia locations, I would have spent in here, happily or red wine and right. My note: dago soaking up the entire atmosphere that to me yeah yeah and something of a tourist really can look forward to as well. I mean that's.
That part of the draw that's the initial part of going. I mean this. This guy does not cover hotels and restaurants, because you want to take your lonely planet or Rick Steves book along with you. But if you really are the type person that travel somewhere and read up on the history about it with the certainly no other way to, know about the full story of Sicily without learning about the mafia, and I make it kind of easy. The energy tax latest outing in car to tours that you could cover about a day's time. No you're not gonna, want to see everything, because I do go to some other hairier section, but that's what the photos are for. This is the fourth of Korea, absolutely and so how long did it did? You say this to Q five six years to put this all together seven years here: well, the labor of love, and when is your next visit back to Sicily?
I'm not going this year. You know I I've kind of been everywhere there. I know pretty much every neighborhood of the big cities, so I probably won't going back for a while. I also want to see you is going to be any reaction to the publisher is uh. Just in doing an italian translation of this book. So we'll see if it cells and- and we go into a second edition, it's possible that we could expand and cover the whole island. Most of it would main on the western side, but also there are some events That took place in Katanya and the areas around Massena on in the eastern half that would certainly fit in with the rest of this book. Did you have any sort, person author will save, say, mob author or
some mentor, someone that you felt that you would want to show book two to sort of gauge any kind of nega. Response you might have. I know because of this unique nature of this in the anti mafia sort of perspective. Was there anyone that you can bounces off of when I was searching for blurbs promotional blurbs to the to put on the book. I did approach that very well known best selling mafia author, who was so angry at the title. He didn't want to see the book. You know, and he said you should talk to the audio pizza people. Well, I said audio p so and their website is in my book and he said ok okay. Well, I'll take a look at it. If I have time I I sent in the a pdf file of it he which he never downloaded. I thought it was kind of funny, because his book is. The words are blood. What.
Splattered red? You know it looks very exploitation although it's a very good book- and it's actually in my bibliography- very sweet auth, Named Claire Long Riggs, who did who wrote boss of bosses helping out of province almost say the mafia and a couple of other mafia books, she liked it and gave me a blurb and she had she had good things to say about it. So I don't know I have not run it by any Italians. Yet so we'll see that's a different different ballgame. Isn't it I get it yeah. Well, I wish you luck. I mean I think it's it's handled as sensitively of as you could possibly do in and I like a lot of other people that are putting out similar books to yours. But at least time does doesn't heal, but it it seems to be more forgivable given more time right right.
And that's about all, he could say maybe a bit more forgiveable for various reasons, but. I want to thank you very much for coming on that. Maybe you can tell us about if people were are so inclined to contact you that you have the blogs? We can mention that again, please, and if you do face, book, and if people are so inclined to contact you right, yeah, everything is right: at mafia expose dot com, yes e X, p, o S, t d, dot com, and there they can. You know, hook up with the Facebook to Twitter, it cetera and is quite a body of work now have been posting things and the more recent we have been doing a lot of commentary on Reese items in the news having to do with in the mafia, so if it I would say the dog is a companion to the book, write an in the publisher for those that might want to go to that site. I know there's some advantage to going to the site itself and
right. That's the strategicmediabooks dot com sounds good I'll Thank you very much for coming on and talking about the sicilian, mafia, true crime travel guide, it's a great book and thank you for a really engaging interview. Thank you very much hate my pleasure Dan. Thank you very much. Thank you. Have a great night. You, too, bye, bye.
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Transcript generated on 2019-11-06.