About Mafia Exposed
“Mafia landmarks are found everywhere in beautiful Sicily, an unfortunate byproduct of the island’s tragic history. By mapping theses strange sites and telling the amazing stories behind them, I hope to remind readers that the Mafia is not a romantic relic from the past." — Carl Russo
Mafia Exposed takes you to key locations that mark events in the history of the Sicilian Mafia as it has developed since the mid-19th century. It offers brief glimpses of the malavita that thrives in dark alleys hidden from the bright Mediterranean sun.
This blog forms the basis of my book, The Sicilian Mafia: A True Crime Travel Guide, published by Strategic Media Books.
The provocative nature of this project is not a condemnation of the great people of Sicily. On the contrary, it is written in a spirit of solidarity with the brave individuals—private citizens and police agents alike—who make up the anti-Mafia movement.
The aim is to demystify and strip away the romance of the Cosa Nostra, an institutional phenomenon better perceived as “mafias,” separate but collaborative crime “families” that control discrete regions of the island.
Travelers come to Sicily for its endless pleasures of superb beaches, ancient temples, baroque villages, abundant cuisine and generous hospitality. But beyond the occasional instance of petty street crime, the visitor rarely gets a peek at the tragic undercurrent of victimization.
Small businesses are still extorted on schedule, local bosses still deliver votes to politicians who control public funds, and the murders of warring mafiosi continue on a monthly basis.
Why? Much of the Cosa Nostra’s dominance of the international rackets has slipped away to mainland Italian mafias and foreign traffickers. High-level arrests in Sicily, the U.S. and Canada have broken up its all-powerful “octopus” of global influence. This has resulted in a return to more traditional methods of maintaining power.
Drawing on investigative footwork and the vast literature of Mafia scholarship, this blog concentrates on the western half of Sicily, from the early days of rural exploitation around Corleone to Mussolini’s fascism, the sack of Palermo, and the “excellent cadavers” era of high-profile assassinations.
Most of the locations are identified, but travelers should show discretion, respect and caution when seeking these locations. What was once the villa of a powerful crime boss is now likely the home of lawful citizens. Or perhaps not. While photos of tombs may appear lurid to some, graveside images are ubiquitous in the Italian press and are here regarded, respectfully, as legitimate artifacts.
Readers’ comments are warmly invited, including those that correct erroneous information (much of the subject matter herein is hotly debated by Mafia researchers). Comments are reviewed before being posted. Remarks that glorify the Mafia are ignored. Threats will be investigated and prosecuted. —Carl Russo