The Godfather, The Untouchables, The Sopranos. They all have one think in common: Mafia.
But do Mafia movies and television shows affect the image of Sicily and Sicilians? Hell, Yeah!
Isn't it a bit unfair that while far more potentially dangerous countries like Russia or Brazil enjoy the glory and fame of their emblematic Vodkas and hot Samba dancers, while Sicily is defamed by its Mafia stigma, mainly with thanks to the entertainment industry?
We have been living in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and we can ensure you that it was far more dangerous than Palermo or even Mafia capital Corleone.
Yes, Mafia is still a plague, as it is Camorra in Campania, Ndrangheta in Sardegna as well as Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and gunfighting gangsters in South America. But when one happens to shake hands with a Columbian you are much less likely to say: "Oh really, Bogota?...drug dealers! Kidnappers!" Instead, when one shakes hands with a Sicilian, the same old song plays over and over again :" Oh really, Palermo?...Mafia!"
But believe it or not, despite the bad publicity, Sicily is among the safest regions in Italy!
According to the ISTAT (Italian Institute of Statistics), Sicily registered one of the lowest crime rates in the country in the past few years.
Crimes every 100,000 people:
Pickpocketing every 100,000 people:
Center Italy 446
Italian average 287
Stolen cars, robbed stores and apartments:
Rimini and province 5,761
Numbers talk! Sicily is a safe destination. If you refrain from visiting Sicily because of safety concerns, keep in mind that there are more chances that something could happen to you in a big North American city. Unfortunately though, publicity for Sicily is still pretty bad. The images of The Godfather are well entrenched in peoples' minds all over the world!
May I suggest that next time you shake hands with a Sicilian you might consider to say :"Oh really, Palermo?...Damn good food there!"