How Mafia tourism is booming in Sicily

Thanks to the likes of Al Capone, Vito Corleone and Tony Soprano, the Mafia have captured the public imagination since the 1920s.

Known for ruthless violence and strong family loyalties, the Sicilian gangster is an iconic figure – with hoards of tourists travelling to Sicily, just to get a flavour of the lifestyle.

Travel companies have long capitalised on this fascination, with many offering tours to see locations where The Godfather was filmed.

Bar Vitelli in Savoca, location for several scenes in the Godfather movie, is a popular tourist destination

The hillside village Savoca, near Taormina, where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) began his romance with his first wife, Apollonia, sees countless visitors every year.

And Corleone, south of Palermo, where Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) takes his name from, and also the surname of Sicily’s most feared Mafia family, is a popular pit stop, too.

Some tour operators, such as Sicily-Tour, even show visitors around the sites of Mafia activity in Palermo, Corleone and Siracusa. On its website, the company says: ‘We will discuss the Mafia, where they came from and what they are up to.’

You even can stay overnight in the estate of a Mafia Don, which has been transformed into a organic-food farmhouse B&B.

One tour company, Overseas Adventure Travel, even gives tourists the chance to sit down with Angelo Provenzano, the son of notorious Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano – known as the ‘boss of all bosses’ for a chat about growing up with one of Italy’s most violent Mafia men.

Iconic figure: Hoards of tourists travel to Sicily each year to satisfy a fascination about the Mafia (Marlon Brando in the Godfather, pictured)

The elder Provenzano is currently serving life for mafia crimes, including his involvement in the murders of the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. Before being captured, he spent 43 years on the run.

Tourism bosses are not happy. As well as being keen for their island to shed its gangster reputation – the fact that the younger Provenzano is making money from tourism is essentially giving more power to the Mafia.

The View of Forza D'Agro, a small mountain village featured in the Godfather movie

One tour company, Overseas Adventure Travel,  gives tourists the chance to sit down with Angelo Provenzano (right), the son of notorious Mafia boss, Bernardo Provenzano (left) – known as the ‘boss of all bosses’

‘I fight every day to make sure that Sicilian tourism is not linked to something like the Provenzano name,’ Cleo Li Calzi told The Guardian.

‘Sicilians feel hurt by the fact that someone associated with the Mafia is allowed to speak with tourists.’

There’s also the matter of ‘pizzo’ – sums of ‘protection’ money, ranging from 200 to 1,000 euros per month paid by hotels, restaurants and cafes in Sicily directly to the Mafia.

Overseas Adventure Travel offers visits to a Norman Cathedral - as well as 'enlightening' discussions with the son of a former Mafia boss

Overseas Adventure Travel offers visits to a Norman Cathedral – as well as ‘enlightening’ discussions with the son of a former Mafia boss

One tour company, Addipizzo Travel, are fighting back. It offers in depth tours of Sicily’s Mafia landscape from walking tours through Palermo learning about the civil Anti-Mafia movement to exploring Corleone by bicycle.

The company started its life in 2004 as a campaign group and now has 300 member traders including hotels, bars, restaurants and even a bank, and offers ‘pizzo-free’ holidays to help locals stand up to every day crime.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3137324/From-visiting-famous-Godfather-locations-meeting-deadly-gangster-s-son-chat-Mafia-tourism-booming-Sicily-locals-aren-t-happy-it.html#ixzz3e45FgWPI

How Mafia tourism is booming in Sicily 2015-06-25T10:42:05+00:00