New York Times: A New Way to See Sicily
... But on a stoop right next to our cheerfully oblivious children sat our tour guide, Edoardo Zaffuto, chatting away loudly about how “the Mafia has robbed Sicily of its dignity.” To underscore that point, across Mr. Zaffuto’s chest was a T-shirt reading “Addiopizzo!” The catchphrase means “Goodbye, protection money” and is the name taken by an organization determined to use tourism as a means to return some of that stolen dignity to Sicily.
Don’t you ever get nervous, I asked, nodding at the glarers. “Never,” Mr. Zaffuto said. “There are too many of us.”
“Us” are fellow Addiopizzo members, part of a social movement that, according to Mr. Zaffuto, now covers more than 700 businesses, including a travel agency whose mission is to guide tourists toward establishments that refuse to pay the Mafia’s protection money.
Given the duration and reach of the Mafia’s influence on Italy (and on Sicily, in particular, where it is said to have started), trying to quantify the group’s economic impact is an inexact science. That said, a 2007 study by SOS Impresa, the anti-rackets office of the retailers’ association, found that 70 percent of Sicilian retailers pay the Cosa Nostra protection money. The average payment is about 880 euros (about $1,275) a month, according to the anti-Mafia research foundation Fondazione Rocco Chinnici.
And if they didn’t pay?
“Arson, vandalism, harassment,” said Mr. Zaffuto. By whom? “The Mafia,” he said with a laugh, finishing his ice cream.
In July 2004, a group of Mr. Zaffuto’s friends wanted to open a bar without paying protection money (or pizzo, in Italian). Outraged that this seemed nearly impossible, they plastered Palermo’s walls and phone booths with black-and-white stickers and fliers reading, in Italian: “An entire people that pays the pizzo is an entire people without dignity.” The group then formed Addiopizzo, enlisting businesses that refused to pay, and showing up en masse at Mafia trials to cheer police cleanup efforts. ...