Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's international desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia and how immigration has transformed European societies.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli has traveled extensively for reporting assignments. Most recently, she travelled to Norway to cover the aftermath of the brutal attacks by an ultra-rightwing extremist; to Greece, Spain, and Portugal for the latest on the euro-zone crisis; and the Balkans where the last wanted war criminals have been arrested.

In addition, Poggioli has traveled to France, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark to produce in-depth reports on immigration, racism, Islam, and the rise of the right in Europe.

Throughout her career Poggioli has been recognized for her work with distinctions including: the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, the Welles Hangen Award for Distinguished Journalism, a George Foster Peabody and National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Awards, the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize, and the Silver Angel Excellence in the Media Award. Poggioli was part of the NPR team that won the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of the war in Kosovo. In 2009, she received the Maria Grazia Cutulli Award for foreign reporting.

In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston together with Barack Obama.

Prior to this honor, Poggioli was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences "for her distinctive, cultivated and authoritative reports on 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia." In 1990, Poggioli spent an academic year at Harvard University as a research fellow at Harvard University's Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

From 1971 to 1986, Poggioli served as an editor on the English-language desk for the Ansa News Agency in Italy. She worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

The daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor's degree in Romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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Parallels
12:18 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Pope Francis Puts The Poor Front And Center

Pope Francis blesses a child Sunday after the Holy Mass at St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 7:06 pm

Over the past week, Pope Francis has launched a crescendo of attacks on the global financial system and what he calls a "cult of money" that does not help the poor.

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The Salt
3:17 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

No More Smuggling: Many Cured Italian Meats Coming To America

1971 film Lady Liberty." href="/post/no-more-smuggling-many-cured-italian-meats-coming-america" class="noexit lightbox">
Even Sophia Loren felt compelled to smuggle mortadella, despite a U.S. ban — well, her character did, anyway, in the 1971 film Lady Liberty.
Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 9:36 am

American gourmets and lovers of Italian food products, your days as food smugglers are over.

No more stuffing your suitcases with delicacies bought in Italy, hoping the sniffer dogs at JFK or other American airports won't detect the banned-in-the-USA foodstuffs inside your luggage.

In the U.S., they're called cured meats, the French say charcuterie and in Italy, the word for cured-pork products is salumi.

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The Two-Way
3:27 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Long Hidden, Vatican Painting Linked To Native Americans

Centuries of grime was removed during the recent restoration, revealing the men with the headdresses.
Courtesy of Vatican Museums

For close to 400 years, the painting was closed off to the world. For the past 124 years, millions of visitors walked by without noticing an intriguing scene covered with centuries of grime.

Only now, the Vatican says a detail in a newly cleaned 15th century fresco shows what may be one of the first European depictions of Native Americans.

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The Salt
10:04 am
Thu April 25, 2013

EU Embraces 'Suspended Coffee': Pay It Forward With A Cup Of Joe

A barista serves coffee at a cafe in Naples, Italy. The Italian city's long-standing tradition of buying a cup for a less-fortunate stranger is now spreading across Europe.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:48 pm

Tough economic times and growing poverty in much of Europe are reviving a humble tradition that began some one-hundred years ago in the Italian city of Naples. It's called caffè sospeso — "suspended coffee": A customer pays in advance for a person who cannot afford a cup of coffee.

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Religion
3:17 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

With New Pope, Catholic Women Hope To Regain Church Leadership Roles

Parishioners partake in the Way Of The Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome. A group of women Catholics recently made a pilgrimage to Rome to request that women once again be allowed to hold leadership positions in the church.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 6:45 pm

The newly elected pope's focus on the poor and the marginalized has instilled great faith among many Catholic women. They hope the papacy of Pope Francis will promote a leading role for women in the church.

A group of American nuns and Catholic women recently made a pilgrimage to Rome to make their requests heard.

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Europe
5:33 am
Sun March 31, 2013

Pope Francis Delivers First Easter Sunday Mass

After celebrating Mass along with more than 250,000 faithful, Pope Francis delivered a plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message to the world, decrying the seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 31, 2013 4:19 pm

Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter Sunday Mass praying for world peace and urging a diplomatic solution to the standoff on the Korean peninsula.

Only two weeks after his election, the first pope from the developing world continues to make his mark on the Catholic Church.

St. Peter's Square was bedecked with flowers and packed with joyous pilgrims and tourists as Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass.

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Europe
2:56 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Italian High Court Overturns Acquittal Of American Student Accused Of Murder

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. The case of Amanda Knox is not over. She's the American exchange student who was accused of murdering her British roommate in Italy. She was acquitted in 2011. But today, Italy's highest court overruled that acquittal. The court ordered Knox and her former boyfriend to be retried. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, this reopens a case that drew international attention and sharp criticism of the Italian judicial system.

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Europe
7:57 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Amanda Knox May Face Retrial After Italian Court Ruling

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn to news this morning in Italy. In a surprise ruling, Italy's highest court has ordered a retrial of American Amanda Knox. She's the former exchange student who, along with her former boyfriend, was charged in the murder of her British roommate. Today's ruling overturned the 2011 acquittal of the two defendants after they spent four years in jail.

We're joined by NPR's Sylvia Poggioli on the line from Rome. Good morning, Sylvia.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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Religion
2:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Pope Francis Endears Himself To Catholics, Vatican Watchers

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 8:42 am

Pope Francis is formally inaugurated in a mass in St. Peter's Square Tuesday. Leaders from all over the world are attending. In less than a week, the pope has made himself known to the Catholic world and beyond for his direct and simple words and gestures.

The Papal Succession
3:27 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Pope Francis Displays 'Common Touch' On First Day

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:42 pm

Pope Francis' spent his first day as leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday.

Religion
3:36 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

No Clear Frontrunner For Next Pope On The Eve Of Cardinals' Conclave

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 6:18 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is a big week at the Vatican. The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church will enter the Sistine Chapel tomorrow for a conclave to elect the next pope. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is in Rome and has been talking with the faithful.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Small groups of people wander through St. Peter's Square. There's a sense of excitement, but also trepidation. These pilgrims came all the way from Brazil. Sister Paola Schneider is praying the cardinals will be inspired to make the right choice.

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Religion
2:48 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Vatican Manages Pope Selection Process

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan (right) chats with other cardinals as they arrive for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican on Thursday.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:08 am

As Roman Catholic cardinals prepare to elect the next pope, old-style Vatican secrecy has prevailed over American-style transparency.

Under pressure from Vatican-based cardinals, their American counterparts canceled their daily briefings that drew hundreds of news-starved journalists.

The clampdown was part of what is shaping up as a major confrontation over the future of the church between Vatican insiders and cardinals from the rest of the world.

Just an hour before the scheduled American briefing, an email announced it had been canceled.

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Religion
3:34 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Catholic Cardinals Meet To Prepare For Election Of New Pope

Roman Catholic cardinals gathered Monday to plan how they will select the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Religion
3:01 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Cardinals At Odds Over When To Begin Choosing Next Pope

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 11:02 am

The College of Cardinals is holding its first official meetings at the Vatican on Monday. The top agenda item is choosing which day to start the closed-door conclave that will elect the new pope. With no clear front-runner, the conclave outcome is unpredictable.

The papal resignation has put the cardinals in an unprecedented situation in modern history.

"The real mood is of shock and disappointment — this resignation desacralized the figure of the pope," says Massimo Franco, author of several books about the Vatican. He says a pope cannot be treated like a company CEO.

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Religion
2:32 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

As Pope Benedict XVI Exits, Catholic Church Faces An Identity Crisis

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 4:30 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Pope Benedict XVI is now pope emeritus.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH BELLS)

CORNISH: Bells tolled as Benedict left the Vatican by helicopter. Vatican TV followed the entire 15-minute flight to the papal summer residence.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

CORNISH: Once there, the people spoke to the large crowd that had gathered to greet him.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: (Foreign language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

CORNISH: He said thank you and good night.

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Religion
4:06 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Pope Benedict Leaves A Church Mired In Crises

In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during his farewell meeting to cardinals Thursday. Benedict promised his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor.
AP

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:54 am

Today is the last day of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Just two weeks ago, the German-born pope stunned the world by announcing he would be the first pope to resign in 600 years. After eight years on the throne of St. Peter, Benedict leaves behind a church in crisis.

Since the announcement, bulletins issued by the Vatican have ranged from the lofty — how Benedict will retire to a life dedicated to prayer and study — to the mundane, such as the details of packing the pope's personal belongings and what he'll leave behind.

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Religion
3:19 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI To Become 'Pope Emeritus' After Stepping Down

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 3:57 pm

On his last full day as Pope, Benedict XVI had his final general audience in St. Peter's Square before a crowd estimated at 150,000 people. He had a more personal message than usual, saying his resignation was dictated by his ailing health and declining speech. He spoke of the moments of joy in his papacy, but also of turbulent seas and rough winds when it seemed like the lord was sleeping.

Europe
3:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Italian Election Results Cause Market Jitters

The Five Star Movement's Beppe Grillo is shown on TV Monday at the Democratic Party press center in Rome. The prospect of political paralysis hung over Italy as election results showed the upstart protest campaign making stunning inroads, and mainstream forces of center-left and center-right wrestling for control of Parliament's two houses.
Alessandra Tarantino AP

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 10:43 am

Italian elections have hurled a tsunami against the system: An upstart anti-establishment party that rejects European Union-dictated austerity measures is now the single biggest party in Parliament. Newspaper headlines proclaim the country ungovernable, and world financial markets are spooked by the prospect of gridlock in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

Thanks to a byzantine election law, the center-left Democratic Party came in first by a slim majority. But it can't govern alone.

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Europe
1:28 am
Fri February 22, 2013

'The Real Jiminy Cricket': Unlikely Candidate Upends Italian Elections

Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo addresses supporters at a rally on Feb. 12 in Bergamo, Italy. Many pollsters say his populist Five Star Movement could come in third in this weekend's election.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 6:24 am

Italy's election campaign has been dominated by an upstart comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is soaring in the polls. The movement is not expected to win in the weekend vote, but its strong presence in Parliament could be destabilizing and reignite the eurozone crisis.

Beppe Grillo is a standup comedian and the country's most popular blogger; 63 years old, with a mane of grey curly hair, he's hyperactive and foul-mouthed. His last name means "cricket," and he's the most charismatic politician in Italy today.

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Europe
3:51 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Italy's Berlusconi Returns From Political Graveyard

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 10:33 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Italy, elections begin this coming Sunday and voters appear disoriented by a motley array of parties. Even political analysts are finding it difficult to explain how the disgraced former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has managed to resurrect himself.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that he's pulled his rightist coalition into second place, just behind the center-left Democratic Party.

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Europe
12:58 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Greece's Economic Crisis Reveals Fault Lines In The Media

People read newspaper headlines in Athens. In 2009, there were 39 national dailies, 23 national Sunday papers, 14 national weekly papers and dozens of TV and radio stations for a population of 11 million.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:05 pm

Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs.

Many people believe the country's news media have failed to cover the crisis — and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.

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Religion
3:44 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Pope: Resignation Is 'For The Good Of The Church'

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 7:44 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance today since announcing his resignation. He will be the first pope to step down in 600 years. Today, Benedict told thousands of faithful that he's confident his decision will not harm the church.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has our story.

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Remembrances
9:41 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI: A Champion Of Catholic Tradition

Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation Monday, was an ardent defender of Catholic tradition. For a quarter-century before he become the pontiff in 2005, he served as the chief enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy.
Vicenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 11:52 am

On April 19, 2005, when wisps of white smoke puffed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Catholic Church had its first German pope since the 11th century.

Just one day before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered a homily that, many analysts later said, became the platform of his papacy.

He denounced modern trends he said were undermining Catholicism and Western civilization.

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Religion
8:14 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Benedict XVI, Vatican's Traditionalist Enforcer, Steps Down

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 8:16 am

The first German pope in a thousand years is a cold, distant intellectual who never served as a parish priest. Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican Enforcer, became Pope Benedict XVI. As successor to John Paul II, Benedict was never as beloved by the faithful but still attracted crowds matching those of his media-savvy predecessor.

The Two-Way
8:53 am
Sat February 9, 2013

Knights Of Malta Celebrates 900th Anniversary At Vatican

Knights of the Order of Malta walk in procession toward St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 900th anniversary of the Order of the Knights of Malta, on Saturday at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican received a special treat Saturday, when some 4,000 members of the Knights of Malta marched in procession to the tomb of St. Peter.

The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II. On Saturday, the Knights attended Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and received an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

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Europe
1:39 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Privatization Of Greek Assets Runs Behind Schedule

Employees of Hellenic Postbank protest during a strike against the bank's privatization in Athens, in December.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 1:07 pm

In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.

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Europe
8:45 am
Mon February 4, 2013

For Greeks, Painful Cuts Keep Tearing At The Social Fabric

Georgia Kolia, 63, has two adult children, both unemployed. She works as a volunteer distributing loaves of bread at the Agia Zonis Orthodox church soup kitchen for the poor in Athens, Greece, in April 2012.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:12 pm

Greeks are feeling the squeeze. The social repercussions of three years of austerity measures imposed by international lenders are hitting hard. Thousands of businesses have shut down, unemployment is nearly 27 percent and rising, and the once dependable safety net of welfare benefits is being pulled in.

With further cutbacks and tax hikes about to kick in, Greece's social fabric is being torn apart.

Nowhere are cutbacks more visible and painful than in health care.

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Europe
3:38 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Violence At Both Ends Of Political Spectrum Threatens Greece

A protester holds a petrol bomb during clashes with riot police after a demonstration against new austerity measures outside the parliament in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 7.
Aris Messinis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 6:33 pm

Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.

But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.

Take the latest explosion in Athens — a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.

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Europe
9:58 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Honoring 'Our Will To Live': The Lost Music Of The Holocaust

The Nazis imprisoned Czech composer Rudolf Karel (shown here in a sketch from 1945) for helping the resistance in Prague. He wrote his compositions down on toilet paper.
Courtesy of Francesco Lotoro

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:56 am

For the past two decades, in a small town in southern Italy, a pianist and music teacher has been hunting for and resurrecting the music of the dead.

Francesco Lotoro has found thousands of songs, symphonies and operas written in concentration, labor and POW camps in Germany and elsewhere before and during World War II.

By rescuing compositions written in imprisonment, Lotoro wants to fill the hole left in Europe's musical history and show how even the horrors of the Holocaust could not suppress artistic inspiration.

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Europe
3:16 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Tax On Heating Oil Turns Greek Skies Black With Wood Smoke

Another new consequence of Greece's economic crisis is that the skies of Athens and other cities are filled with smoke due to the increase in the use of wood burning stoves. The cost of heating oil has gone up 40 percent — a tax increase imposed by the troika. The Greek Environment ministry has issued a warning that the increase in pollutants in the air is posing public health risk.

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