Palermo, Sicily: “What if they ask us for the pizzo?”

You’ve heard of duty-free airport stores and sweatshop-free clothing. How about Mafia-free shopping?

That’s the idea behind Addiopizzo – a group that believes “an entire people that pays the pizzo is a people without dignity”:

There’s now a store in Palermo in which “all products and staff are 100 percent guaranteed Mafia-free, supplied only by shops and producers which have stood up to Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and refused to pay protection money.”

I like that graphic, which was used in stickers plastered all over Palermo as the introduction to the idea of Addiopizzo. It looks like a public death notice, which you can still see posted in older neighborhoods, particularly in the south. To me it represents the rest of that logic, unspoken – that without dignity, the world those people live in will eventually cease to exist.

The mafia is a fact of life in Italy. It’s not the music of wistful mandolins, or machine guns in violin cases; it’s a tangible threat to everyday life. It’s being passed over for a job that’s filled by A Friend. It’s a sudden three-day closure of a small shop because the Owner Is Ill. It’s half-finished construction sites abandoned for years because The Money Ran Out. And it’s what’s holding Italy back.

So I say, good on you, Addiopizzo. Keep it up. Italy, and especially Sicily, needs to breathe free once again.

2 thoughts on “Palermo, Sicily: “What if they ask us for the pizzo?”

  1. Yikes.

    Sounds like a tall order…Good to see some people have the balls to stand up to mob…I hope no one gets hurt…

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