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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4:02am

Sun November 25, 2012
Europe

Fiscal Woes Fade For Catalan's Independence Fervor

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 12:09 pm

Supporters of center-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition leader Artur Mas wave pro-independence flags during the last day of campaigning in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Voters in Spain's northern region of Catalonia go to the polls Sunday in a parliamentary election that is shaping up as an unofficial referendum on secession. The current Catalan president has pledged to pursue a move toward independence if re-elected.

The region, which holds 8 million people, is the country's industrial engine. Catalans are resentful that their taxes are being siphoned off for poorer regions. The prospect of secession is opposed both by the Madrid government and the European Union.

'We Are Not Spaniards'

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9:13am

Fri November 23, 2012
World

Italian Women Call For Action Against 'Femicide'

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 8:02 pm

Demonstrators rally to protest violence against women in a march in Milan, Italy, in November 2009. This year, more than 100 women in Italy have been killed by their male partners.
Antonio Calanni AP

Already this year, 105 women in Italy have been killed by husbands or boyfriends –- present or former.

Vanessa Scialfa, 29, was killed by her partner in Sicily. Alessia Francesca Simonetta, 25, was pregnant when she was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in Milan. Carmella Petrucci, 17, was stabbed in the throat as she tried to defend her sister from her ex-boyfriend.

Police inspector Francesca Monaldi, who heads the gender crime unit in Rome, says the names and the cities change, but the stories are very similar.

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3:56pm

Fri October 19, 2012
Shots - Health News

German Lawmakers Move To Quell Uproar Over Circumcision

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 10:38 am

A rabbi holds up a pillow used during ritual circumcision at a synagogue in Berlin.
Markus Schreiber AP

Circumcisions have been virtually suspended in Germany for the past four months. The practice was effectively banned after a regional court in Cologne ruled that circumcision amounts to assault.

That controversial ruling this summer alienated the country's 120,000 registered Jews and 4 million Muslims, who saw it as a violation of religious freedom. It also fueled accusations of intolerance in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.

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10:25am

Thu October 11, 2012
Europe

With A Database, Germany Tracks Rise Of Neo-Nazis

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 3:13 pm

Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers march on Feb. 13 to commemorate the World War II firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied planes. Concerns about far-right extremism have grown in Germany after the discovery last year of an extreme far-right cell believed to have carried out a decade-long crime spree, including the murder of 10 people, mainly Turkish shopkeepers, bank robberies and bombs.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

The spread of neo-Nazi influence in Germany came to light fully last year with the shocking discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for the worst right-wing violence since World War II.

At least nine people of migrant origin were murdered, and there were bomb attacks and bank robberies.

In response, Germany last month established the first centralized neo-Nazi database, similar to those that existed for decades for Islamic and leftist extremists.

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1:26am

Thu October 11, 2012
Europe

Vatican II: A Half-Century Later, A Mixed Legacy

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 6:23 am

Thousands of faithful Catholics carry torches in a procession in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Oct. 11, 1962, the opening day of the historic Second Vatican Council. Over a three-year period, more than 2,000 bishops from around the world issued 16 landmark documents, which championed a more inclusive, less hierarchical and open church.
Girolamo Di Majo AP

At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.

As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.

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12:58pm

Tue October 9, 2012
Europe

German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 9:02 pm

Bavarian bishops walk in a procession to the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers near Bad Staffelstein, Germany, in May. A decree by the German bishops' conference warns that German Catholics who do not pay a state church tax will be denied sacraments.
Daniel Karmann EPA/Landov

Germany's bishops have a clear message for the country's 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.

Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.

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5:54am

Sun September 23, 2012
Europe

Italy's Fiat Woes A Symptom Of Industrial Malady

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 11:22 am

Automaker Fiat threatened to shutter operations in Italy.
AFP Getty Images

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

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3:58pm

Wed September 12, 2012
U.S.

Sharp Differences Dull U.S. Influence On Euro Crisis

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The eurozone crisis has weighed heavily on the global economy and it will remain a central foreign-policy challenge for President Obama or Mitt Romney, whichever man wins in November. The Obama administration has repeatedly urged eurozone countries to shift their focus from austerity to growth. This week, we're focusing on foreign policy issues facing the next administration.

And NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has this story on the eurozone.

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2:54am

Sat August 18, 2012
Europe

Italian Yacht Owners Weigh Anchor To Dodge Taxes

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 6:24 pm

The quayside at Compagnia della Vela in Venice, Italy, is largely deserted. Authorities have targeted yacht owners as part of a crackdown on tax evasion, and many boat owners have sailed to other countries in the Mediterranean.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Italy has a public debt of nearly 2 trillion euros, and it's cracking down on its notoriously wily tax evaders. Owners of luxury yachts are a prime target, with tax police launching dockside raids to see how individual tax files line up with owning and maintaining an expensive boat.

But yachts are mobile assets. In response, many boat owners are simply weighing anchor and setting course for more tax-friendly Mediterranean marinas.

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2:55am

Tue July 31, 2012
Europe

Italy Worries Sicily's Woes Could Have Ripple Effect

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 3:09 pm

Raffaele Lombardo, the governor of Sicily, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome last week. Lombardo has been accused of having ties to the Mafia in Sicily.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

In antiquity, Sicily was known as Greater Greece. Now, the eurozone crisis has led to sharp spending cuts and, with an economy based on public sector wages, Sicily is being called Italy's Greece. The central government fears the region's debt of more than $6 billion could further endanger the country's financial stability.

Worried about contagion, the Rome government is dictating on Sicily tough bailout conditions similar to those international lenders imposed on Greece.

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2:08pm

Tue July 24, 2012
World

Whistleblower Law Unlikely To Help Italy's Migrants

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 4:19 pm

African migrants fired from Italian factories in the north have joined the swelling ranks of people searching for agriculture work in the south. Originally from Burkina Faso, Karim Suruku (right) is a migrant worker in Calabria in southern Italy. At left is Amidou Denamidou.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Italy recently approved a decree that would grant work and residence permits to migrants who blow the whistle on bosses who exploit them in the economy illegally.

But in places like the southern region of Calabria, the law has little chance of being applied at a time when the economic crisis increasingly fosters an illegal, underground economy.

The main activity in Calabria is agriculture. Thanks to vast citrus fields, it's one of the major stops for migratory workers, mostly Africans without legal documents.

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5:54am

Sat July 14, 2012
Europe

Italians Commemorate Costa Concordia Wreck

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 2:54 pm

Work has begun to remove the tons of rocky reef embedded into the Concordia cruise ship's hull, off Giglio Island in Italy. The plan is to eventually tow the wreck away from the island in one piece.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Last January, the captain of the Italian mega-cruise ship Costa Concordia committed an apparent act of maritime bravado a few yards from the shore of a Tuscan island. Thirty people were killed, and two are still missing.

Six months after one of the biggest passenger shipwrecks in recent history, relatives of the dead attended a memorial service Friday near the site of the disaster.

The solemn notes of Mozart's Requiem echoed through the small church of Saints Lorenzo and Mamiliano on the island of Giglio.

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4:27am

Sat July 7, 2012
Europe

'Super Mario' Challenges The Idea Of Who's An Italian

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 5:33 pm

Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring the second goal during Italy's Euro 2012 football championships semifinal match against Germany, June 28, at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

The Euro 2012 soccer championship ended last weekend with Spain's defeat of Italy. But many sportswriters singled out the second-place team as the tournament's unexpected surprise.

The star of Team Italy is the Sicilian-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, raised by an Italian adoptive family — and now Mario Balotelli is changing the notion itself of what constitutes Italian-ness.

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5:58am

Sat June 23, 2012
Europe

Euro Mini-Summit Takes New Focus

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 9:07 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. With the eurozone crisis well into its third year, the leaders of the four major eurozone countries tried once again in Rome to reach agreement on how to try to salvage the single currency. For the first time, the focus shifted away from austerity to growth and job creation. But as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, agreement was not reached on how to end the sovereign debt crisis.

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6:03am

Mon June 18, 2012
Europe

In Greece, The Election May Have Been The Easy Part

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 6:38 am

Two men read newspaper headlines in Athens on Monday as conservative Greek lawmakers raced to form a government a day after parliamentary elections.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

European leaders and global markets expressed relief after Greek conservatives' narrow parliamentary election victory over leftists who had vowed to ditch the tough austerity terms of an international bailout.

But the next government will have to deal with a polarized society and with widespread anger at wage and job cutbacks that have targeted the middle class and spared an entrenched political and business elite.

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5:48am

Sat June 16, 2012
Europe

Voters To Decide Outcome Of Current Greek Drama

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 5:53 pm

Street art by Bleeps.gr are allegories of the effects of the economic crisis on ordinary Greeks.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Debt-burdened Greeks go to the polls Sunday to choose between an establishment party, and continuing harsh austerity measures, or a leftist party that vows to replace the current bailout deal with less punishing conditions.

But many Greeks are aware that whatever the outcome, they face years of hardship in a rapidly unraveling society.

A recent TV news report on medicine shortages illustrated the anguish rippling through the country. The piercing screams of a woman in a pharmacy can be heard as she shouts, "Where am I going to find my medication?"

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3:57am

Sat June 2, 2012
Religion

Conspiracies Swirl As Vatican Scandal Engulfs Rome

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 5:13 pm

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience on May 30 at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

The scandal over leaked documents that has been engulfing the Vatican is the biggest breach of confidence and security at the Holy See in recent memory.

Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.

Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.

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2:09pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Europe

In Fiery Protest, Italian Museum Sets Art Ablaze

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 6:21 pm

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Casoria, Italy, burns an artwork by French artist Severine Bourguignon. Manfredi is burning the museum's works to protest deep cuts to the arts.
Roberta Basile AFP/Getty Images

Casoria is a small town in the Naples hinterland known mostly as a hotbed of the local mafia. But last month, it achieved a different kind of notoriety when Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) launched his provocative challenge to the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Manfredi's "art war" consists of setting works of art on fire to protest cuts to Italy's arts budget. He's pledged to incinerate two or three pieces of art each week from a museum collection housing about 1,000 exhibits.

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3:18pm

Tue May 8, 2012
Europe

Greece's Left Wing Tries To Form A Government

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 5:07 pm

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, speaks to the press in Athens on Tuesday, May 8, after the Greek president gave him a mandate to form a government. Tsipras has three days to put together a coalition. An attempt by a conservative party has already failed.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

In debt-burdened Greece, the president has given a left-wing coalition a mandate to form a new government, but it faces an uphill battle following an election in which no single party was dominant.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, vehemently opposes the austerity program imposed by international creditors.

Syriza finished second in the vote Sunday, when Greek voters decisively rejected the tough conditions for international bailouts.

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2:26pm

Sun May 6, 2012
Europe

Austerity Loses As Greece's Fringe Parties Win Big

Members of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party celebrate in Thessaloniki on Sunday. Golden Dawn is now set to enter parliament for the first time since the end of the military junta in 1974.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

According to exit polls, angry Greek voters have overwhelmingly punished the two major parties that endorsed draconian international loan agreements.

There is no front-runner in sight, but the fringe parties on the left and the right that strongly oppose the bailout terms have benefited the most.

The socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties that have alternated for four decades — and uneasily co-governed for the last six months — are imploding.

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