Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's foreign desk and reports from Rome, Italy; the Balkans; other parts of Europe; and the Middle East. Poggioli can be heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli's on-air analysis has encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and noteworthy coverage from Prague. In early 1991, she supplemented NPR's Gulf War coverage, reporting from London on European reactions to events surrounding the war.

In 2004, Poggioli was the inaugural recipient of the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, presented to an outstanding public radio foreign correspondent. In 2002, Poggioli received the Welles Hangen Award for Distinquished Journalism from Brown University. In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brandeis University. In 1994, 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. Prior to her duties as editor, she worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

Poggioli's reports on the Bosnian conflict earned two awards in 1993: the George Foster Peabody Award and the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize. She also won two awards in 1994, the National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Award 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 NATO's 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

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 in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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4:12pm

Thu March 27, 2014
News

In First Visit To The Vatican, Obama Finds Himself Moved

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:03 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.

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5:05am

Thu March 27, 2014
Europe

Obama And Pope Meet For First Time At The Vatican

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:56 am

The elections of President Obama and Pope Francis made history — Obama as the first African-American U.S. president and the Argentine-born Jorge Bergoglio as the first non-European pope in centuries.

2:35pm

Wed March 26, 2014
Parallels

The Sometimes Tricky Relations Between Popes And Presidents

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:24 pm

President Obama and Michelle Obama meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2009. The president will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.
Getty Images

President Obama meets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, the 30th anniversary of formal relations between Washington and the Holy See, and against a backdrop of a sometimes turbulent history in U.S.-Vatican ties.

The first high-level bilateral contact was in 1788, as the Vatican foreign minister recalled recently. Speaking in a large renaissance hall, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti said President George Washington, through his envoy Benjamin Franklin, informed the Vatican that it did not need to seek authorization from the U.S. for the appointment of bishops.

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3:38am

Thu March 13, 2014
Parallels

One Year Later, 'A Pope For All' Keeps Catholics Guessing

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 11:21 am

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican last month.
Vincenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

A year ago today, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics got their first Jesuit pope and the first from the global south. Taking the name Francis, he soon became one of the world's most popular newsmakers.

Following two doctrinally conservative leaders, the Argentine-born pope's pastoral approach has given the Catholic Church a new glow — less judgmental, more merciful.

Like many others in the big Sunday crowd in St. Peter's square, Sally Wilson is not Catholic, but she came all the way from Beaumont, Texas, to see the pope.

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3:43am

Wed March 12, 2014
Parallels

A Magnet For African Migrants, Italy Seeks A New Approach

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 11:37 am

Migrants sit in a boat during a rescue operation by the Italian navy off the coast of Sicily on Nov. 28. Italy is looking to revamp the way it handles the hundreds of thousands of migrants who arrive annually.
Reuters/Landov

With mild weather ahead, southern Europe is once again bracing for new boatloads of would-be migrants and asylum seekers from North Africa.

Italy has borne the brunt of this migrant flow for two decades, and it has responded with one of Europe's most repressive laws on illegal immigration.

But now the Italian parliament is trying to scrap a law that has made migrants vulnerable to exploitation and human rights abuses. The existing law has also produced detention camps where undocumented migrants are held in harsh conditions.

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2:36pm

Sun March 9, 2014
The Salt

A Theme Park For Foodies? Italians Say Bologna

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 1:53 pm

Customers dine at the original Eataly in Turin, Italy, which opened in 2007.
demoshelsinki/Flickr

Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world, and its art and cultural riches have drawn visitors for centuries.

It also prides itself on being a culinary mecca, where preparing, cooking and serving meals is a fine, even sacred, art. And now that the country is in the deepest and most protracted recession since World War II, why not cash in on its reputation as a paradise for visiting gourmets and gourmands?

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5:39pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Religion

UN Report Raises Scathing Criticisms Of Vatican

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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3:20pm

Wed January 29, 2014
Parallels

On A Roman Street, Graffiti Celebrates 'SuperPope'

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:00 am

Graffiti artist Mauro Palotta says Pope Francis is the only world leader who stands on the side of the people.
Sylvia Poggoli NPR

First, he's Time magazine's "Person of the Year." Then, he's Rolling Stone's cover story: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in the Roman Catholic Church.

Now, he's "SuperPope," the latest incarnation of Pope Francis, who has rapidly become one of the most popular leaders on the planet.

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2:57am

Wed January 29, 2014
Europe

Archaeologists Unearth What May Be Oldest Roman Temple

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:49 pm

Excavation at the Sant'Omobono site in central Rome has provided evidence of early Romans' efforts to transform the landscape of their city.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Archaeologists excavating a site in central Rome say they've uncovered what may be oldest known temple from Roman antiquity.

Along the way, they've also discovered how much the early Romans intervened to shape their urban environment.

And the dig has been particularly challenging because the temple lies below the water table.

At the foot Capitoline Hill in the center of Rome, stands the Medieval Sant'Omobono church.

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4:44pm

Mon September 16, 2013
NPR Story

Costa Concordia Clear Of Pollution And Delicate Reefs

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's being called the largest marine salvage operation ever. Off the coast of west Italy, engineers are attempting to rotate the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner to an upright position. The massive ship is now clear of the reef that had penetrated the hull. And apparently, no pollutants are spilling from the ship.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us now from the island of Giglio. And, Sylvia, describe where you are now and whether there's been any visible progress toward riding the ship.

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6:04pm

Fri September 13, 2013
Europe

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

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 8:29 pm

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

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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3:00am

Tue August 27, 2013
The Salt

Tortellini, The Dumpling Inspired By Venus' Navel

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 4:38 pm

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

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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3:02am

Mon August 19, 2013
Europe

Ai Weiwei Exhibit Shines Light On Time As Political Prisoner

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 6:52 am

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

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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11:35am

Mon August 12, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 6:31 pm

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

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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12:36pm

Fri August 9, 2013
Parallels

Rome's New Mayor Wants The Monuments Pedestrian Friendly

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

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

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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5:02am

Tue August 6, 2013
Art & Design

Art In Context: Venice Biennale Looks Past Pop Culture

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:56 am

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

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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12:49pm

Mon August 5, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:24 pm

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

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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8:14am

Fri August 2, 2013
Europe

Berlusconi Vows To Fight Back After Tax Conviction

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 11:08 am

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

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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2:37pm

Mon July 15, 2013
Parallels

In Venice, Huge Cruise Ships Bring Tourists And Complaints

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 6:13 pm

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

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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3:18am

Wed June 19, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 9:40 am

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

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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1:27pm

Mon June 17, 2013
The Salt

Italian University Spreads The 'Gelato Gospel'

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 4:12 pm

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

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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5:28pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Religion

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

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 6:35 pm

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

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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4:29pm

Mon May 27, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 5:52 pm

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

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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6:30am

Tue May 21, 2013
Europe

Young People Cast Out Of Italy's Welfare System

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 11:13 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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2:24pm

Mon May 20, 2013
Parallels

Pope Francis Puts The Poor Front And Center

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 9:06 pm

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

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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4:49pm

Thu May 16, 2013
The Salt

No More Smuggling: Many Cured Italian Meats Coming To America

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 11:36 am

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

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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5:27am

Sun May 5, 2013
The Two-Way

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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12:04pm

Thu April 25, 2013
The Salt

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

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:48 pm

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

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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5:04pm

Mon April 1, 2013
Religion

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

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 8:45 pm

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

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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7:33am

Sun March 31, 2013
Europe

Pope Francis Delivers First Easter Sunday Mass

Originally published on Sun March 31, 2013 6:19 pm

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

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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