Remembering Giovanni Falcone – 26 Years Since His Death

 

Every year May 23 is a day that I mark in some way. It is the anniversary of the murder of a famous judge in Italy named Giovanni Falcone. His picture is on my refrigerator along with those of my family and Bruce Springsteen. Falcone was a hero in my world, a crusader for justice. He was also a man who was murdered with his wife and members of his “scorta” or protection detail by the Mafia. He was someone who was trying to do the right thing and make living in all parts of Italy, a country I love, better and freer for all. It’s hard to believe it has been 26 years since his death, an event I remember perfectly. My boyfriend and I lived in a cute apartment in Florence near the Boboli gardens. We heard the news and couldn’t believe it.

I had moved to Florence the summer before. My Italian wasn’t great at that point and I learned it partly through reading the newspaper, specifically stories about the Mafia and the heroic judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who fought to put the bosses and their cohorts in jail. I was and remain fascinated by Italian politics and the struggles that went on.

The day Falcone was murdered I remember feeling ill and shocked. They blew up a entire part of the highway in what came to be known as the “Strage di Capaci” or the rampage at Capaci. Paolo Borsellino was murdered in front of his mother’s home on July 19, 1992, just two months later.

I can’t believe so much time has gone by. Those responsible for these murders have been arrested long ago but the work those judges began continues today. Falcone and Borsellino’s murders will forever remain ingrained in my mind.

Sadly while things are better, the Mafia is still very entrenched in Italian society. This New York Times article published this week comments on this very topic. Read it here.

I am happy to see that a very important priest Don Ciotti and an organization he works with has been able to confiscate much property from the Mafia. It is part of an association called “Libera” or free.

I had first noticed these products when shopping in a store in Milan that I love called “Altromercato.” They sell a host of things using rules of fair trade.

It’s one of my favorite stores and an obligatory stop on all my Italian trips. A number of my friends have gotten wedding gifts there and the proceeds always go to things I believe in. I often buy products there too and found this wine called Centopassi.

Centopassi was the name of a movie I saw many years ago about the life of a young political activist and radio host called Peppino Impastato. Peppino was murdered by a Mafia boss.

Apparently, centopassi was the number of steps between Peppino’s home and that of the boss that killed him. It is a reference to how difficult it is to fight your neighbors and how entrenched the Mafia is in Italy. The wines made from lands confiscated from the Mafia are called the Centopassi line. They are dedicated to victims of the Mafia, among them Pio La Torre, Peppino Impastato, and Placido Rizzoto.

This catarratto that I tried was a nice wine as an aperitivo or with a light first course. I especially enjoyed giving money to a good cause and drinking to the memory of these special people.

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