Pizza, pasta, mafia. If you talk about Italy, these are the first three things that many people think. In Europe, as in the rest of the world, Italy is often associated with organized crime. For this reason it is important to remember that there are a few corrupt men, but there are millions of honest people. One of them is Giovanni Falcone. Giovanni Falcone is not just a man, he is a hero. A person who has struggled all his life against the mafia and died to chase a dream: a world free from crime.

An Italian hero: Giovanni Falcone (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Salvatore Giovanni Falcone Augustus was born in Palermo on May 18, 1939. He was a famous anti-Mafia magistrate and his innovative investigation methods are still used throughout the world to fight against organized crime. He was one of the first magistrates in the world to identify “Cosa Nostra” , the mafia-type criminal organization-terrorist in Sicily. In fact, Falcone carried out financial investigations on banks both in Italy and abroad to identify suspicious movements of money, that connect to organized crime.

Falcone was part of the first anti-Mafia pool in history, a group of judges including Rocco Chinnici, Giuseppe Di Lello and Paolo Borsellino, and their investigations allowed the implementation of the first Maxi Trial against the Mafia, leading to the arrest of hundreds of criminals.

From that moment, the actions of the Italian state became so decisive against the mafias that they cause the revenge of Cosa Nostra through a series of attacks.

Giovanni Falcone was killed on May 23rd, 1992 in Palermo, during an attack of Cosa Nostra, called the Capaci massacre: it blew up the machine on which Falcone was travelling with his wife Francesca Morvillo and three bodyguards.

Since that moment, Giovanni Falcone is considered a hero, a symbol of the fight against the mafia with his friend and colleague Paolo Borsellino, killed by Cosa Nostra few months after the Capaci massacre.

The mafia is a huge problem because it takes away wealth to give it a few criminals. The Mafia is like a cancer, it spreads quickly in politics, industry, economy, and it tries to infect all, controlling a territory as the disease does with the bodies. Of course, this is not important only for Italy. We are part of an economic community where money, goods and information are exchanged on a daily basis and if one part is sick how long it will take before the rest will be infected? The fight against the mafia must be an EU commitment to respect the principles of economic and social solidarity that characterize Europe.

Like a cancer, the Mafia takes away energy, brings pain and sometimes kills. Yes, the mafia kills, but a cure exists.

The cure is the law, it is the honest and respect.  Giovanni Falcone is an example. With his own life he has made an important signal for the future: never stop fighting. Even though he is dead, even though his life has been difficult, even if he had to work with many difficulties, in the end he won because thanks to his sacrifice the fight against the mafia has begun.

“The Mafia is not invincible. The fact is human and like all human events has a beginning, and will also have an end. Rather, one must realize that it is a phenomenon deadly and very serious and that you can win by not claiming heroism unarmed citizens, but engaging in this battle all the best forces of the institutions.” (Falcone)

We want to live in Europe, where violence, Mafia, corruption are not anymore threats and we want to live in a world in which Italy is no longer associated with mafia. This is a nation of artists, creative, honest and dreaming people.

Recently I made a trip to Sicily, the land where Falcone was born and died. I walked the streets, but I did not feel fear or violence, I felt the creativity, the art, the passion for the culture and traditions, I have seen the hospitality and kindness of the people. I have visited the Valley of Temples in Agrigento and close to the Greek temple of Concord, the Polish sculptor Miltoraj left one of his statues: Icarus. Icarus wanted to fly but he fell, because of that the statue has no arms and legs but has its wings.

At that moment I thought about Falcone and the Italian people, to which the mafia has broken not only legs and arm but all their dreams. Despite that, we still have wings. We can still dream of a free country, at least as long as there are heroes like Giovanni Falcone who sacrificed everything for justice.

So in the future, when you will think about Italy, remember: pasta, pizza and …mafia? No, heroes!