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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Europe
3:05 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Off The Tuscan Coast, Raising The Ill-Fated Costa Concordia

An aerial view taken on Aug. 23 shows the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side next to Giglio Island. The wrecked cruise ship will be rolled off the seabed and onto underwater platforms.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:29 pm

Weather permitting, one of the largest maritime salvage operations ever attempted will get underway Monday in the waters off of an Italian island.

Twenty months ago, in January 2012, the Costa Concordia luxury liner smashed into a jagged reef, killing 32 people. Since then, the vessel has being lying on its side — an unsightly wreck visible for miles around.

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Middle East
5:14 am
Sun September 8, 2013

Pope Leads Prayer Vigil For Peace In Syria

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 11:40 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Syria is also on the mind of pope Francis. Last night, the pope made a somber appeal to the United States to reject any military strikes against Syria. The Vatican estimates some 100,000 people gathered to pray and meditate during a four-hour long peace vigil in St. Peter's Square in Rome.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli was there.

(SOUNDBITE OF GREGORIAN CHANT)

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The Salt
1:00 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Tortellini, The Dumpling Inspired By Venus' Navel

Even in Sandro Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus, the goddess's belly resembles a plump, firm tortellino.
Wikimedia.org

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 2:38 pm

Tortellini — small circles of rolled dough folded around a filling — are one of the most renowned members of the Italian pasta family. In the land of their birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they're strictly served as broth-like dumplings.

Possibly no foodstuff in Italian cuisine is surrounded by so much history and lore.

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Europe
1:02 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Ai Weiwei Exhibit Shines Light On Time As Political Prisoner

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's six iron boxes are part the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale of Arts in Venice, northern Italy. The work on display is called S.A.C.R.E.D. The four initials standing for supper, accuser, cleansing, ritual, entropy and doubt, and referring to Ai Weiwei time 81 days in detention in 2011.
Domenico Stinellis AP

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 4:52 am

Chinese dissident artist and architect Ai Weiwei is an outspoken critic of China's record on human rights. This year, Beijing prevented him from traveling to Venice for the first exhibition of a deeply autobiographical work. His most recent installation is an excruciatingly detailed depiction of the period he was held in solitary detention.

In a quiet corner close to a canal, Sant'Antonin is a typical 17th century Venetian church. But inside, the contrast between the paintings of old masters and the contemporary exhibit is stark.

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Parallels
9:35 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Italy's First Black Minister Finds Herself A Target Of Slurs

Cecile Kyenge's appointment in April as integration minister was hailed as a landmark for diversity in Italy. But since then, she's been the target of death threats and vicious racial slurs.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 4:31 pm

When Cecile Kyenge became the first black government minister in Italian history, the appointment was hailed as a landmark for diversity. But since Kyenge became integration minister, she has been the target of death threats and vicious racial slurs.

The debate highlights growing intolerance and what Prime Minister Enrico Letta has called a shameful chapter for Italy.

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Parallels
10:36 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Rome's New Mayor Wants The Monuments Pedestrian Friendly

Tightrope walker Andrea Loreni performs in front of the Coliseum in Rome on Saturday. Rome's new mayor is on a crusade to make the ancient monuments more pedestrian friendly, and the city held an all-night street party as it permanently blocked off part of the main road running past the Coliseum.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 7:38 pm

On the first Saturday of August, a funny thing happened to 150,000 people on their way to the Roman Forum.

While a pianist and sax player set the mood, people looked upward and watched anxiously as acrobat Andrea Loreni made his way slowly on a tightrope stretched across Via dei Fori Imperiali, the wide avenue flanking the Forum and leading to the Coliseum.

The acrobat's walk was meant as a metaphor, a bridge reuniting ancient squares.

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Art & Design
3:23 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Art In Context: Venice Biennale Looks Past Pop Culture

The Angolan exhibit consists of tall stacks of large photographic posters by artist Edson Chagas. The country, which is exhibiting at Venice for the first time, won the Golden Lion award for best national pavilion.
Courtesy of www.beyondentrophy.com

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 9:56 am

Every two years for over a century, lovers of contemporary art convene in Venice for the oldest and largest noncommercial art exhibition in the world.

The Venice Biennale has none of the glitz and conspicuous consumption of art auctions in London and New York. Instead, it's a dizzying and eclectic array of sights by both celebrity artists and total unknowns.

This year's works are not just paintings, sculptures and installations, but also performances, videos and music.

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Parallels
10:49 am
Mon August 5, 2013

World War II Researchers Say 'Italian Schindler' Was A Myth

The Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste was used during World War II as the only death camp on Italian soil. In the building's courtyard, the outline on the brick wall is where the crematorium was located.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 4:24 pm

A group of Italian researchers who have studied troves of World War II documents have found no evidence that Giovanni Palatucci, a police official long credited as the "Italian Schindler," saved the lives of 5,000 Jews.

The findings are demolishing the Italian national icon and angering supporters of the man who has been honored at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and who has been put on the track to sainthood.

'Unfounded' Claims Of Heroism?

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Europe
6:14 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Berlusconi Vows To Fight Back After Tax Conviction

The front pages of the main Italian newspapers in Rome on Friday after Italy's top court upheld a jail sentence against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 9:08 am

After some 20 trials over two decades, Italian media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi received his first definitive conviction Thursday for evading almost $10 million in taxes while he was prime minister.

After more than seven hours of deliberations, Judge Antonio Esposito read the ruling of the five Supreme Court judges: "In the name of the Italian people," the judge declared, "Berlusconi's conviction and prison term are irrevocable."

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Europe
2:54 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Italian High Court Confirms Berlusconi's Conviction

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 3:48 pm

Italy's top court has upheld a conviction and prison term for Italy's most prominent politician, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on charges of tax fraud. This the first time he has been definitively convicted, after 20 years in which he was accused of multiple transgressions. However, the supreme court will now reconsider the law that would bar him from holding high office because of the conviction. This could allow the shaky coalition that governs Italy to remain in place.

Parallels
12:37 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

In Venice, Huge Cruise Ships Bring Tourists And Complaints

A massive cruise ships towers over Venice. Some 650 cruise ships now visit the Italian city annually, and critics say they threaten the city's fragile architecture.
Courtesty of the No Big Ships Committee

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 4:13 pm

The fragile architectural treasures of Venice are endangered by rising sea levels, and a growing number of critics now say the city and its canals are at risk from massive cruise ships as big as floating skyscrapers.

On an average day, tens of thousands of passengers lean over the railings of cruise ships that can be 300 yards long and 15 stories high. The tourists peer down at the majestic Doge's Palace as they sail into St. Mark's basin and down the Giudecca canal.

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Religion
2:25 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Two Former Popes Approved For Sainthood

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 10:37 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Two of the most beloved popes in recent memory - John Paul II and John XXIII - have been formally approved for sainthood. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that in his first four months as pope, Francis has shown great personal and spiritual affinity with these two predecessors.

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Parallels
1:18 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Parvum Opus: Followers Flock To Pope's Latin Twitter Feed

Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, a Latin expert at the Vatican, says people from all walks of life are following the pope's Twitter feed in Latin.
Sylvia Poggioli/NPR

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:40 am

Against all Vatican expectations, the pope's Twitter account in Latin has gained more than 100,000 followers in six months and continues to grow.

Followers are not exclusively Roman Catholics or Latin scholars, but represent a wide variety of professions and religions from all over the world. Some go so far as to claim that the language of the ancient Romans is perfectly suited to 21st-century social media.

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The Salt
11:27 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Italian University Spreads The 'Gelato Gospel'

Thousands of students from around the world flock to courses near Bologna, in central Italy, at the headquarters of Carpigiani, the leading global manufacturer of gelato-making machines.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 2:12 pm

Italy has secured its place in the global diet with the likes of espresso, cappuccino, pasta and pizza.

The latest addition to the culinary lexicon is ... gelato, the Italian version of ice cream.

And despite tough economic times, gelato-making is a booming business.

At Anzola dell'Emilia, a short drive from the Italian city of Bologna, people from all over the world are lining up for courses in gelato-making.

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Religion
3:28 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Pope's Reference To 'Gay Lobby' Broaches Taboo Topic

Pope Francis leads rosary concluding Marian month of May on May 31, at St. Peter's square at the Vatican.
Tiziana Fabi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 4:35 pm

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are a grave sin. But the existence of active gay prelates in the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia has been considered a poorly held secret for centuries.

Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, says the normal definition of a lobby as an organized group of people pushing a specific agenda does not apply here.

He prefers to call it a gay subculture.

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Parallels
2:29 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

At 500, Machiavelli's 'Prince' Still Inspires Love And Fear

A portrait of Italian philosopher, writer and politician Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence, 1469-1527) by Antonio Maria Crespi. Half a millennium after he wrote The Prince, the slim volume continues to play an important role in political thought and evoke strong response.
Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana De Agostini/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 3:52 pm

The name Niccolo Machiavelli is synonymous with political deceit, cynicism and the ruthless use of power. The Italian Renaissance writer called his most famous work, The Prince, a handbook for statesmen.

An exhibit underway in Rome celebrates the 500th anniversary of what is still considered one of the most influential political essays in Western literature.

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Europe
3:52 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Young People Cast Out Of Italy's Welfare System

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 9:13 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are also following a subtler story of economic devastation, even with all the news about unemployment in Europe, this next number is hard to absorb. In Italy, among younger people, the jobless rate us close to 40 percent. The government is focused on the middle-aged and the elderly leaving little room it seems for their kids

Here's NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING AND SHOOTING)

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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

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.

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