Sicily's Mafia-free department store

A 29-year-old Sicilian named Fabio Messina opened a department store in Palermo that offers goods that are guaranteed to be supplied by shops that refuse to pay protection money (pizzo) to the Mafia.

200803101322 (Caption: 'An entire population that pays the pizzo is a population without dignity.')

Fabio Messina has never run a shop before and agrees that the supermarket he sunk his savings into and opened yesterday sells a rather eclectic array of goods, from marmalade and pot plants to pyjamas and wristwatches.

But it is a landmark in Palermo: all products and staff are 100 per cent 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 decided it was right to give those traders who refuse to pay an extra opportunity,' said Messina, 29, a former boating instructor and bar owner and now owner of Punto Pizzofree. The 'Pizzo' refers to the €200 (£153) to €500 that up to 80 per cent of Palermo's shopkeepers pay the mob monthly to avoid a smashed window, a mysterious fire or a bomb under their car.

The store is part of an anti-Mafia groundswell that started four years ago when activists plastered Palermo with bill stickers stating: 'An entire population that pays the pizzo is a population without dignity.'

Link | Link to Addiopizzo