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.

Same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal throughout Western Europe, including many traditionally Catholic countries. The last holdout is Italy, where the Senate is about to take up a bill on Thursday that would legalize civil unions — though it would not authorize gay marriage.

Tens of thousands of Italians took to the streets last weekend in some 100 cities demanding legalization of civil unions, including those of gay and lesbian couples.

"Italy, it's time to wake up," they shouted.

In winter, Rome has one of the mildest climates among European cities. It attracts not only off-season tourists, but also migratory birds such as starlings, which may be outliving their welcome.

For much of the day, Rome's visiting starling population feeds in olive groves in the countryside. Well-fed, they start making their presence in the city known in midafternoon.

That's when walking under tree-lined streets becomes dangerous.

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A half-century ago, 40 bishops from around the world gathered in an ancient Roman church and signed a pledge to forsake worldly goods and live like the neediest among their flock.

They were in Rome for the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the deliberations that opened the Catholic Church to the modern world.

The bishops' all but forgotten pledge, known as the Pact of the Catacombs, has gained new resonance with Pope Francis' vision of a church for the poor.

On Thursday, Maamoun Abdulkarim came to address the Italian Parliament regarding the plight of Syria's 10,000 archaeological sites. Italy has been active in helping protect antiquities in conflict zones.

Abdulkarim, the head of Syria's antiquities agency, says that 99 percent of museum collections — some 300,000 museum pieces — have been salvaged, but civil war has still caused massive damage.

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Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the issuance of the most radical document by the Second Vatican Council.

It's called Nostra Aetate, or "In Our Times," and it opened up relations between Catholicism and non-Christian religions. The landmark document repudiated anti-Semitism and the charge that Jews were collectively guilty for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Vatican Synod Ends

Oct 25, 2015
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Inside the Vatican City, a contentious bishops meeting has come to a close. The bishops were hashing out big issues like how the church deals with divorce and gay marriage. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli says progressives and conservatives scored points.

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About half an hour after takeoff from Philadelphia and a grueling, nine-day visit to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis looked tired Sunday night when he appeared before reporters. He suffers from sciatica, and it was visible this week that he was having difficulty walking up stairs and standing for a long time.

Nevertheless, he took questions for close to an hour.

The pope was asked about an issue that had angered victims of clerical sex abuse: Why did he choose to show strong compassion for American bishops in one of his first speeches in the U.S.?

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Pope Francis is in Philadelphia this evening celebrating the final mass of his visit to the United States.

(SOUNDBITE OF MASS)

Competition to get admitted to the papal trip to Cuba and the U.S. was fierce: Some 140 reporters and photographers applied for the 76 seats available for print, radio and TV journalists. I strategized for much of June on the best way to secure one of them.

On the day the decision was announced, those who were rejected received politely written emails expressing regrets from the Vatican spokesman. Those who were admitted learned of it only by going to the Vatican press room to see the list pinned on the bulletin board.

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Pope Francis continues his American tour. He's just landed in New York to cheers and waving flags an a band playing "New York, New York."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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In April this year, on Earth Day, Pope Francis urged everyone to see the world through the eyes of God, as a garden to cultivate.

"May the way people treat the Earth not be guided by greed, manipulation, and exploitation, but rather may it preserve the divine harmony between creatures and creation, also in the service of future generations," he said.

For the next six months, Italy is hosting a dinner party — and the entire world is invited to attend.

The event, called Expo Milano 2015, is the latest World's Fair. This year's theme is "feeding the planet, energy for life." The global population is projected to pass 9 billion by 2050, and Expo organizers want to start a global conversation now about sustainability, biodiversity and food security.

Italy holds regional elections Sunday, and one politician trying to make a comeback is the scandal-plagued former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Taking his cue from Italy's digitally savvy young Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Berlusconi has opened an Instagram account, posting more than 60 photos on the first day alone.

We see the 78-year-old media tycoon holding trophies of his soccer team, A.C. Milan; addressing rallies; and posing with his 29-year-old girlfriend, Francesca Pascale — as well as hugging his white poodle Dudu.

It's just 15 miles south of Rome, but it looks more like ancient Jerusalem.

Welcome to the vast backlot at Cinecittà, the sprawling movie metropolis where the original Ben-Hur was filmed, and a remake is currently in production.

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After a two-month wait in Libya, Hassan Silla, a 35-year-old from Sierra Leone, made the sea crossing from northern Africa to southern Italy on a smuggler's boat last February.

As one of 76 migrants on a 12-meter-long inflatable dinghy, Silla knew exactly what the risks were. Lawlessness and chaos have gripped Libya, and Silla says migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are the most vulnerable.

While waiting to make the crossing, he lost his best friend.

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On Rome's southern outskirts, EUR is a middle- and upper-middle class neighborhood full of parks and office buildings. With tens of thousands of people coming and going every day, the neighborhood has also become a magnet for prostitutes.

This has upset many residents. Now, neighborhood officials are preparing to create a "zone of tolerance," which is welcomed by the local community, but not the Catholic Church or the prostitutes.

Resident Armando Grassi supports the plan to corral streetwalkers somewhere far from his home.

Architect Renzo Piano spends one week a month in his hometown of Genoa, Italy. His house-workshop is perched 300 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and can only be reached by a glass-enclosed funicular that crawls slowly up a steep incline dotted with cypress and olive trees. The airy, multi-story greenhouse workshop buzzes with young architects working on the many Piano projects under way across the world.

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