Skip to main content

Discover how Addiopizzo’s anti-mafia tours are educating travellers and locals in Sicily

anti-mafia tours in Sicily, Italy

The Southern regions of Italy are known for many things: glittering oceans, the biggest lemons you’ll ever see, volcanoes and ruins, and of course pizza. Sicily in particular is dreamy (and also the recent star of HBO’s White Lotus) with terracotta-tiled-houses and white sand beaches.

It’s not unknown, however, that Sicily has a long history with the local mafia. But hope is not lost and local residents have banded together in a fight to reject and expel the mafia from Sicily, including groups such as the Addiopizzo Travel Company. This local organisation hosts guided tours of Palermo and educates travellers on the true depths of the mafia in the hopes that change can be achieved. (Between this and the bistro of second chances committed to reducing local inequalities, it’s clear Palermo wants the BEST for their citizens!)

We sat down to chat with Chiara, a long-time employee at Addiopizzo, who feels strongly about this cause and is eager to spread the word. Read on to see how this Contiki MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience can lead to a better future for Sicily.

Hey Chiara, could you tell me a little bit about why the Addiopizzo Travel company was started?

“Yes! So, it started in November of 2009 when the three founding members – Dario Riccobono, Francesca Vannini, and Edoardo Zaffuto – came up with the idea for the Addiopizzo Travel project.”

“We are a social cooperative that organises tours for locals and tourists so that they can get to know Sicily while saying no to the mafia. We are comprised of six members and eight employees, and our goal is to help travellers discover the long-standing anti-mafia struggle in the area, and show some of the significant locations to give an immersive and authentic experience. By booking with the Addiopizzo Travel company, travellers can ensure they aren’t dropping any coins into the pockets of the mafia.” 

contiki travellers in Sicily

Image source:Contiki

Are you from Sicily, Chiara? And what do you love most about it?

“Yes, I was born and raised in Sicily. What I love most about my home is that, despite the many difficulties it faces, we as a people have always been able to rise again. Also the weather isn’t bad!”

How far does the history of the mafia stretch in Sicily? What are some common misconceptions?

“The origin of the Sicilian mafia dates back to the 19th century when the Sicilian nobility moved back to the cities, leaving the land to the tenants (becoming the bosses) and earning them extensive rights over others. Gradually, this sphere of influence spread as far as the cities, and these people became what we know today as the Sicilian mafia, marking themselves as a real criminal organisation and tainting Sicily to this day.”

“It’s easy for foreigners and travellers to associate Sicily with crime and the mafia today because of numerous films taking advantage of these stereotypes – like The Godfather – for example, to the point where the mafia here has reached a cult status.”

“For us Sicilians, however, we know the real depth of the mafia’s network of harm and the harsh realities that they create. It may seem cool to outsiders, but we know the truth.”

The bistro of second chances: get to know the focus of our Sicilian MAKE TRAVEL MATTER™ experience

The bistro of second chances: get to know the focus of our Sicilian MAKE TRAVEL MATTER™ experience

Charlie Fabre
by Charlie Fabre Mar 27, 2023

Is it common for tourists in Sicily to unknowingly be profiting the local mafia?

“Yes. It used to be that the mafia acted in more blatantly violent and criminal ways, but today the system and those connected to it act silently and sneakily. Those who aren’t aware of these schemes can easily fall into their ‘traps’. Certain businesses are owned by the local mafia, and this of course is not advertised, so it’s easy to unknowingly be giving your business to them as well.”

“For this reason, we actively support the Critical Consumption Campaign and we support citizens and local business owners who do not give into the extortionate demands made by the mafia and who have openly sided against the mafia bullying.”

anti-mafia tours in Sicily, Italy

Image source:Contiki

What kind of travel experiences does Addiopizzo Travel offer?

“We offer a variety of travel experiences, mostly walking tours of Palermo and sightseeing. These take place every day of the week, and we offer these to tourists but also to local students and school groups, as well as universities and locals if they want to learn as well.”

Do you have any initiatives that aim to help locals, as well?

“In addition to the constant promotion of Critical Consumption, we support locals through donations to non-profit associations which are engaged in social welfare and actively involve them in our tours as well.”

“The funds allocated to Addiopizzo Travel company are used to spread our general campaign against the mafia as well.”

What do you hope travellers will gain from this experience? Is there anything you would want them to take away from this?

“The experiences that we offer travellers are not only aimed at teaching people about the grip and crimes of the mafia, but also aimed at human and civil growth in the area to create a better future for Sicily. We hope that this formula creates an unforgettable experience for tourists.”

12 best things to do in Sicily

12 best things to do in Sicily

Dominic Oliver
by Dominic Oliver Oct 13, 2020

Do you find that Contiki travellers are eager to learn more about anti-mafia efforts in Sicily?

“If I didn’t live in Sicily I would certainly be curious to know what it’s like beyond the mafia stereotypes, so I hope that travellers are too! Sicily has so much more to offer than just being a place for The Godfather fans to visit filming locations. We have extraordinary cultural and artistic heritage, the towns and beaches and landscapes are all amazing, and we’re so proud that people that visit take the time and effort to get to know these other facets of Sicily and engage with those of us who fight for change.”

Travellers in Sicily, Italy

Image source:Contiki

What are you most proud of in your role?

“The commitment and dedication that I put into my work is something I’m very proud of, and also the ability to teach travellers something new about Sicily and show the bright side of this place.”

“I’m also very lucky to have an excellent group of colleagues who I can always count on for support, and I’m proud of all the work we’re doing.”

Up next

Stop dreaming and make sh*t happen!