Italian Capital of Culture 2018 Will Be Palermo

Congratulations to the city of Palermo, which has been awarded the distinction of Italian Capital of Culture for 2018.

The Italian Culture Ministry (Ministero di Beni Culturali) awards the prize each year in an effort to promote tourism. Along with the distinction, the winning city receives 1 million euro which is to be used to promote cultural activities and artistic heritage.

“We saw that this virtuous competition creates a system of communal participation,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, “Being on the shortlist is a bit like receiving an Oscar nomination: it allows them to do a lot of work, in terms of planning and promotions.”

Source: Palermo wins title of Italian Capital of Culture 2018

A Bribe-Free Holiday in Sicily

Vucciria Market in Palermo Sicily
You Wanna Pizzo Me?

The brave work of the anti-mafia organization AddioPizzo.org was recently brought to my attention. “Addio Pizzo” means “Goodbye, Pizzo,” the latter word meaning the protection money that hundreds of businesses throughout Sicily have had to pay to the powerful, omnipresent mafia. AddioPizzo was formed in 2004 after a group of young Sicilian entrepreneurs, afraid that they too would have to pay a racket if they wanted to open up a pub, began plastering Palermo with stickers that said:

Un Intero Popolo Che Paga Il Pizzo È Un Popolo Senza Dignità

An Entire People Who Pay the Pizzo Is a People Without Dignity

As more Sicilians spoke up to agree with this message, the anti-pizzo movement was born. Slowly but surely, businesses stepped forward bearing the “addiopizzo” label, which meant that because they refused to pay the pizzo, then their customers did not have to worry about funding the Mafia through their purchases. Today there is an ever-growing list of AddioPizzo businesses in Palermo, from sporting goods stores to pharmacies and from restaurants to industrial service providers. You can download the 2009 AddioPizzo Guide and Map to Pizzo-Free Businesses (PDF) here (the most recent guide available as of this writing). You can also print out this list, which is less handy because it is without a map but probably more updated.

AddioPizzo Banner - Anti-Mafia
AddioPizzo also now has an offshoot called AddioPizzo Travel, which takes tourists around Sicily to not only pizzo-free establishments but former homes and hideouts of mob bosses which have been reclaimed by the state and turned over to anti-mafia organizations such as Libera Terra. AddioPizzo Travel goes beyond the Sicilian capital of Palermo to explore many of the other beautiful – but mafia-scarred – cities of Monreale, Capaci, Cinisi, and Cefalù.

Libera Terra is in itself interesting anti-mob organization. It operates as a cooperative that has begun cultivating lands seized from the mafia and producing goods with the “from lands freed from the mafia” label.  Libera Terra also runs a B&B in the former home of mob capo Bernardo Brusca (Portella della Ginestra) as well as the co-op farmstay inn (Pio La Torre) in Corleone, renowned Cosa Nostra territory.

This is responsible travel at its core. Let’s hope that the AddioPizzo organization, label, and tours will spread north to other mafia-infected regions like Calabria and Campania.

Photo © [email protected] from Creative Commons

Round-up: Martinis in Rome, Skiing Switz-aly, and more

It has been a while since I posted an article roundup. Here are some of the great Italy travel articles you may have missed in the last month or so.

Roaming Rome, in a Martini Mood [L.A. Times]
Do the Splits on the Swiss and Italian Ski Slopes [The Independent]
Sicily’s Secret South [The Guardian]
Italy in Full (Palermo, Sicily) [Conde Nast Traveler]
Artists Lead the Way in the Oltrarno District of Florence [New York Times]
The Best Way to Travel in Tuscany [CN Traveler’s Perrin Post]

Photo © ventofreddo

Italy Summer Article Round-Up 2008

Lots of Italy-related articles this time of year. So, here goes:

New York Times
Wandering Beyond Classic Rome (The Frugal Traveler Does Europe on a Budget)
On Venice’s Grand Canal in a Kayak
Prescription Med (Ischia)

Los Angeles Times
Exploring Rome’s Famous Seven Hills
Budget Travel in Rome
10 Books and Movies to Prep for a Trip to Rome
Italy: At Home in Rome

National Geographic Traveler
Rome Photo Gallery (Part of NGT’s Authentic Rome feature for the July/August 2008 issue)
Shopping: Roman Gold

The Washington Post
Smart Mouth: His Palermo Restaurant Is Popular, But It’s No Mob Scene
My Verona

Reuters
Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Ferrara, Italy

Naples (FL) Daily News
From the Ground Up: Part-Time Naples Couple Found Their Italian Villa a Full-Time Restoration Job Over Two Years (Brindisi, Puglia)

The Guardian (UK)
The Amalfi Coast On a Budget
Caught in the Spell of San Pietro (Sardinia)
Hidden Gems (Sibillini Mountains, Le Marche)
Little Po Peep (Emilia-Romagna)
Flying Visit: Venice
A Greener Way to Umbria’s Capital

Sydney Morning Herald
How to Shop Up an Appetite (Milan)
Night in Italian Prison Promises Gourmet Fare (Tuscany)
Master of the House (Palladio in Venice)
Holiday in Harmony with Gregorian Monks (Tuscany)
A Bloodbath, Italian Style (Florence)

Free Airfare to Italy with Perillo Tours

My friend Jessica over at Italy Logue found this (pretty) great deal from Perillo Tours this summer. Here’s the gist:

In order to take advantage of the (admittedly generous) free airfare offer, you have to fly from New York’s JFK into Rome, Bologna or Palermo. You have to fly on EuroFly airlines. The flight must be booked by June 1, 2008. And – here’s perhaps the most critical piece – the flight must be booked along with one of three of Perillo Tours’ specific trips in Italy.

So, this isn’t the greatest package deal that we’ve seen. But it’s nice for Perillo to throw a bone to its cash-strapped yet vacation-starved American clients. If you want to read more about the Perillo deal, check out Jessica’s post. Otherwise, you can visit the Perillo Tours website for more information.

Scootermania in Sicily

Vespas on display

At the end of this month, from April 24-27, Vespa enthusiasts from around the world will gather in Cefalù, Sicily, for Vespa World Days. This annual event, held in a different city each year, brings together thousands of the iconic Italian “motorini” from Piaggio in one place. Participants not only have the chance to meet up with other scooter fans but ride their scooters into Palermo for a parade on the 26th. Registration for the event has long since closed. But, if you plan to be in Sicily during the event, watch out (or listen!) for swarms of “wasps” zooming down the street.