The Italian government had seized the wineries from the detained Mafia bosses as early as decades ago but as late as in 1996, laws were enacted which allow to cultivate the vineyards and to administer the lands and real estates valued at several million euros. Since then, more than 4,500 objects were integrated in several viticultural cooperatives.
In 2001, it was the first time cooperatives from Corleone village, about 60 kilometers from Palermo, to bring to market wines that are meanwhile known in Italy as “anti-Mafia wines” from seized vineyards. At this year’s VinItaly wine fair, the Centopassi* wines, a cooperation of two cooperatives from the Corleone region, were again a hot topic due to the continued financial support.
“Wine can be deliverance for a land that has been exploited by the Mafia”, a spokeswoman of the Gambero Rosso publishing house said. And this is how the 61 million euro provided by the EU for the “Nazionale Operativo Sicurezza” program for the recultivation of 125 hectares of seized vineyards in Sicily, Calabria, Apulia and Campania are considered.
In a further project, Unicredit, the European financial institute, is committed in the recultivation of 150 hectares of vineyards near Palermo, which used to be controlled by Michele Creco, a Mafia boss who died in prison in 2008. However, the transformation of the area is not easy. The areas are parceled-out and belong to different local credit institutions. Moreover, people in the region still have the intimidations by the former Mafia clan in mind.
“I think we can breathe easily again. From our point of view, the mood is changing, and the intimidations are over”, Francesco Galante, a spokesman of the Libera network, an organization that fights against organized crime and for the distribution of the seized lands, estimates the situation, adding: “Due to the aids provided by the EU and by other global institutions, it is possible to promote recultivation – and we are making progress.”
“What used to be the emblem of the economic power of the Mafia, is now becoming a symbol of the rebirth of Sicily”, Gaetano Armao, Sicilian commissioner for the economy, commented during his visit at the VinItaly wine fair.
* The name „Cento Passi“ (Italian for 100 steps) is a reminiscence on Guiseppe Impastato (aka Peppino), an Italian politician and anti-Mafia fighter. Due to a conflict with his father, Mr. Impastato as young man developed an antipathy against the wheelings and dealings of the Mafia. When in Palermo a runway was to be built, he organized the resistance against the expropriation of the farmers, and he founded a radio station. Via this medium, he could reach the people and work against the Mafia. When Mr. Impastato stood as a candidate in municipal elections in Sicily in 1978, he was assassinated by the Mafia during the election campaign. In 2000, the life and work of Mr. Impastato was immortalized by director Marco Tullio Giordana in the movie “Cento Passi”. The title refers to the 100 steps distance between Mr. Impastato’s parents’ house and the house of the local Mafia boss. (red.yoopress)