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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2:58pm

Mon February 20, 2012
Europe

Portugal Plays By The Rules, But Economy Slumps

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 11:25 am

A once-bustling vegetable market in Lisbon is now beyond the reach of many Portuguese — a sign of their country's economic problems.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.

The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.

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4:36pm

Fri February 10, 2012
Religion

With Vatican's Backing, Catholics Address Sex Abuse

Cardinal Marc Ouellet presides over a penitential mass at St. Ignatius Church in Rome, Feb. 7, 2012. The mass, which asked the forgiveness of victims of clerical sexual abuse, was part of a Vatican-backed symposium addressing the scandal of pedophile priests and the church culture that enabled such abuse to take place.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

A decade after the clerical sex abuse scandal erupted in the United Sates, Catholic religious officials from all over the world met in Rome this week to tackle the painful topic.

The Vatican endorsed the symposium — called "Toward Healing and Renewal" — the aim of which was changing the culture of how the church deals with cases of pedophile priests.

One of the highlights was a late-afternoon penitential mass on Feb. 7 — apparently the first time a senior Vatican official conducted a service to ask the forgiveness of abuse victims.

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4:00am

Thu February 9, 2012
Politics

Obama To Hold Talks With Italy's Prime Minister

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And that settlement is, of course, a priority for President Obama. But so is the debt crisis in Europe. Today, he hosts Italy's new prime minister, the technocrat who succeeded the controversial-but-flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi last fall. Mario Monti has not yet turned around Italy's economy, but as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, he's changed the government's image abroad.

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6:10am

Sun February 5, 2012
Europe

For Reporter, Cruise Ship Disaster Is A Local Story

Originally published on Sun February 5, 2012 6:49 pm

The Costa Concordia cruise ship remains half-submerged three weeks after it crashed. It continues to be a source of anger for local residents.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

It rarely happens to a reporter that a major story breaks in her own neighborhood. And well, it's not really a neighborhood, but the Tuscan archipelago, where a cruise ship crashed last month. It's an area I know very well.

I spend summers there, and just last August I was boating a few yards from Le Scole, a rocky reef near Giglio island that is the scene of the disaster.

For the past three weeks, the half-submerged Costa Concordia has dominated the landscape of Giglio and looms ominously over the island's future as a haven for nature lovers and scuba divers.

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12:01am

Tue January 31, 2012
Europe

In Italy, Art As A Window Into Modern Banking

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:05 am

Oil painting by Marinus van Reymerswaele.
Courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi

As Italy and much of Europe struggle with their finances, the city of Florence has staged an art exhibition looking at the critical — and controversial — role that financial institutions have played for centuries.

The recent Money and Beauty exhibit, held in the majestic 15th-century Palazzo Strozzi, illustrated how Florentine merchants got around the Catholic Church's ban on money-lending and bankrolled the Renaissance.

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2:03pm

Wed January 18, 2012
Europe

Italy's Cruise Crisis Spawns An Unlikely Star

Italian coast guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco (center) has become a national hero for ordering the captain of a sinking cruise liner to get back onboard and oversee the ship's evacuation. Here, De Falco arrives in court for a hearing on Tuesday.
Giacomo Aprili AP

Five days after a cruise liner slammed into rocks off Italy's Tuscan coast, the country is gripped by the contrasting profiles of two key figures in the drama — the captain charged with abandoning ship and the captain who demanded he get back onboard.

For many Italians, the accident has become a metaphor for a country that sees itself mired in economic and moral decline.

Francesco Schettino, the disgraced captain of the 1,000-foot-long floating palace known as the Costa Concordia, is under house arrest on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

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12:01am

Tue January 17, 2012
Europe

Italy's Bad Economy Leaves Immigrants Vulnerable

Immigrants from Senegal protest against racism in Florence, Italy, on Dec. 17, 2011. Four days earlier, an Italian man killed two African street sellers and wounded three others in a shooting spree in Florence.
Maurizio Degl'Innocenti EPA /Landov

The Italian city of Florence prides itself on welcoming foreign migrants. But the killing of two Africans last month has raised new questions about racism in Italy.

With the economic crisis worsening, there are signs xenophobia could increase as Italians start to compete with immigrants for a slice of the shrinking economic pie.

On Dec. 13, a known right-wing extremist opened fire in two separate marketplaces, leaving two Senegalese dead and seriously injuring three others. The killer then shot himself.

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4:00am

Mon January 16, 2012
Europe

Authorities Investigate Capsized Cruise Ship

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 6:50 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You may have seen the dramatic images over the weekend: a luxury liner that ran aground off the coast of Italy and then turned on its side. At least six people died. And of the 4,200 people on board, more than a dozen are still unaccounted for. Rough weather today has forced officials to suspend rescue operations, and the focus now is on the captain, who is under arrest. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

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6:01am

Sat January 7, 2012
Business

Italian Shopkeepers Say 'No, Grazie' To More Hours

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 7:50 pm

A butcher shop serves customers in a Rome market on Dec. 31. A new law went into effect in Italy on Jan. 1, allowing shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 throughout the year.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Italy's new prime minister, technocrat Mario Monti, wants to stimulate growth by boosting productivity and competitiveness. A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 allows shops, cafes and restaurants to stay open 24/7 all year long, holidays included. This deregulation puts Italy ahead of many European countries, but many Italians are resisting.

Friday — the Day of the Epiphany — was the first holiday of the year. In Rome, however, hardly anyone took advantage of the liberalized shop hours.

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12:01am

Fri December 23, 2011
World

Italians Are Mostly Window Shopping This Christmas

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:19 pm

A woman gazes into a shop window in downtown Rome. Due to tough austerity measures, even wealthy Italians are buying less this holiday season.
Max Rossi Reuters

A tour of how Christmas shopping is going in Italy starts with Via Condotti — Rome's premier shopping street.

It features high-end stores like Prada, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Ferragamo. But salespeople are standing idly by the door. There's a yawning emptiness in these shops.

Two streets down, the only Christmas sound is a recording of a children's chorus singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo." But even in a toy store, well-dressed customers leave without buying.

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9:10am

Sun December 18, 2011
Remembrances

Vaclav Havel, Leader Of The Velvet Revolution, Dies

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright who led a revolution to bring down the country's communist regime, has died. During the communist era, Havel was one of Eastern Europe's foremost dissident writers and champion of human rights.

Havel died Sunday morning at his weekend house in the northern Czech Republic, his assistant Sabina Dancecova said. He was 75.

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4:22pm

Tue November 29, 2011
Europe

Modern Greeks Return To Ancient System Of Barter

In Volos, optician Klita Dimitriadis accepts partial payment in Local Alternative Units, or TEMs. She then spends the TEMs at a monthly farmers market, or exchanges them for other services.
Sylvia Poggoli NPR

It's Sunday in Volos, a fishing village nestled in a large bay in central Greece, and fishermen display their daily catch, which this day includes codfish, sardines and octopus.

Prices have been slashed, but customers are few.

Fisherman Christos Xegandakis laughs bitterly. He says business is so bad, it's time to start swapping goods.

"Give me two kilos of potatoes, and I give you a kilo of fish," he says. "Why not?

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4:00am

Fri November 18, 2011
Europe

Italy's New Government Passes 1st Confidence Vote

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 5:33 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Italy's new prime minister has pledged far-reaching reforms. An economist himself, Mario Monti has managed to win a vote of confidence for his new national unity government by an overwhelming majority in Italy's senate. Still, Europe's debt crisis is gathering more steam and now pushing borrowing costs for Spain and France sharply higher. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, pressure is mounting on the European Central Bank to act to stem the crisis.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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3:51pm

Mon November 14, 2011
Europe

Monti Brings Experience, Clout To Italian Leadership

Italy's new premier-designate economist Mario Monti meets with journalists at the Quirinale Presidential Palace after talks with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Rome on Sunday. Monti told reporters that he will carry out the task "with a great sense of responsibility and service toward this nation."
Pier Paolo Cito AP

In a country where politicians shield themselves behind dark-tinted windows in sleek limousines, Roman paparazzi are having a field day with Italy's new premier-designate, Mario Monti, who actually walks down the street, without bodyguards.

But the longest sound bite reporters are likely to get from him is: "Isn't it a splendid day?"

Monti was chosen to replace the flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi, who was forced to step down over the country's worsening eurozone crisis.

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4:00am

Mon November 14, 2011
Europe

After Berlusconi, Next Italian Government Takes Shape

After a week of market turmoil over the worsening eurozone crisis, hopes are high that the appointment of economist Mario Monti to head a technocratic government in Italy will reassure lenders that the country can speed economic overhaul. Monti could face obstruction from lawmakers of outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party.

7:50am

Sun November 13, 2011
Europe

How Berlusconi Created A Country In His Own Image

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:15 am

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi acknowledges applause before leaving parliament's lower chamber in Rome on Saturday. Berlusconi resigned after the lower chamber passed an austerity package.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

With a party anthem called "Thank God for Silvio," humility is not a Silvio Berlusconi virtue. "I am by far the best prime minister Italy ever had," he said in 2009.

Berlusconi's resignation Saturday marks the end of a political career that tainted Italy's international image and helped bring Europe's third-largest economy to the brink of bankruptcy.

He survived tales of "bunga-bunga" orgies and more than 30 prosecutions for corruption, tax fraud and paying for sex with a minor.

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4:00am

Thu November 3, 2011
Economy

Italy's Debt Weighs On Europe

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made a number of promises to fellow leaders of the eurozone countries at a summit meeting in October. Now Italy's economy is starting to become a growing concern for European Union leaders and financial markets.

3:03pm

Thu October 27, 2011
Europe

Greeks Fear They Are Losing Their Sovereignty

Originally published on Thu November 3, 2011 8:24 pm

A teacher walks by during a parade in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Thursday. Parades were held across Greece on Thursday to mark the 61st anniversary of the country's resistance to Axis forces, which dragged Greece into World War II. Some bystanders also seized the opportunity to shout anti-austerity slogans.

Nikolas Giakoumidis AP

World markets rallied Thursday after European leaders agreed on a plan to deal with the eurozone debt crisis. But in Greece, the most imperiled country, there was skepticism that the deal will do much to help the country out of recession.

In addition, many Greeks also fear that they are losing their sovereignty, and are uncomfortable about the role Germany will be playing in the country's financial future.

The Nuntius stock brokerage firm is, unlike similar offices in New York or London, deathly quiet. So many people have been laid off that the offices are nearly empty.

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3:00pm

Wed October 19, 2011
Europe

Greek Protests Turn Violent

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks marched in Athens today and there were some clashes between police and protesters wearing masks. It was the first day of a 48 hour general strike and it brought the entire country to a standstill. Protesters objected to yet more austerity measures demanded by Greece's international creditors.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has the story from Athens.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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4:00am

Wed October 19, 2011
Economy

Protesting Austerity Moves, Unions Shut Down Greece

Originally published on Wed October 19, 2011 1:21 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is in Athens and she joins us on the line for a look at what the strike is looking like there. Good morning, Sylvia.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What's the scene there? Pretty quiet, I imagine.

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3:41pm

Tue October 4, 2011
Europe

Greek Prime Minister: Undoing His Father's Legacy

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou addresses a meeting of the Federation of German Industry in Berlin, Sept. 27. He is the son and grandson of Greek prime ministers, but his critics say he is betraying the work of his father, who built up the Greek welfare state.

John MacDougall AFP/Getty Images

Greek Prime Minster George Papandreou, who was born and raised in the U.S., belongs to Greece's most important political dynasty — he's the son and grandson of prime ministers.

And yet just two years after he led the Socialist party to victory, his popularity has plummeted, his debt-stricken country is at the heart of the eurozone crisis and he faces the daunting task of dismantling the generous welfare state his father created.

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12:01am

Tue October 4, 2011
World

Tough Choices For Greece's Youth In Economic Crisis

Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 8:19 pm

Stella Kasdagli, 30, and her husband Alexandros Karamalikis, 35, are trying to make ends meet. Karamalikis lost his job and and is now a stay-at-home father, raising their 13-month-old daughter

Sylvia Poggioli NPR

The financial crisis gripping Greece is having a major impact on the country's young people. A two-tier labor market that favors the older generation and draconian austerity measures have triggered a record high jobless rate among those under 35.

And now, the economic upheaval is undermining the traditional family structure and pushing the young to leave their homeland for better prospects.

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4:00am

Wed September 21, 2011
Europe

Speculation Grows That Greece Will Default On Its Debts

Greek leaders yesterday held a second telephone conference with the IMF, the European Union and the European Central bank. Greece is hoping for approval of the next scheduled payment of bailout money. There is growing speculation that Greece will default on its debts. The only questions are how and when, and if Greece can still stay within the eurozone.

4:00am

Mon September 19, 2011
Europe

Greece Tries To Show It Can Reduce Budget Deficit

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 3:43 pm

A woman walks past an advertisement of the national lottery in Athens. Public outrage over austerity measures is intense, and a new levy on real estate has been dubbed the "monster tax."
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

It's a critical period for Greece: It has to convince international lenders that it can slash its budget deficit before getting a vital $11 billion installment of last year's $150 billion bailout deal.

Prime Minister George Papandreou canceled a trip to the U.S. to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting Sunday on finding more cuts to plug this year's budget shortfall. Greece has blamed the shortfall on a deeper-than-expected recession — the unintended effect of a year and a half of draconian austerity measures.

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4:00am

Tue September 13, 2011
Europe

Sex-Abuse Victims Want Hague Tribunal To Investigate Vatican

Originally published on Tue September 13, 2011 12:44 pm

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests pose in front of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday. A group representing the victims is asking the world court to investigate top Vatican officials over the clerical sex abuse scandal.
Rob Keeris AP

The international tribunals at The Hague have dealt with horrific war crimes and brought Balkan war criminals and African warlords to trial.

Now, the tribunal is being asked to investigate top Vatican officials over the global clerical sex abuse scandal, and victims say these offenses meet the legal definition of crimes against humanity.

Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly apologized for crimes committed by priests.

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12:01am

Thu September 1, 2011
Crime In The City

Athens Cop On The Trail Of Modern Greece

Athens' Monastiraki neighborhood is a meeting place for Greek and Ottoman culture. Case in point: the 18-century Tzistarakis Mosque (left) sits below the Acropolis (center) and serves as a focal point for Monastiraki Square.
Julian Finney Getty Images

For millions of tourists who flock to Athens every year, the city at the foot of the Acropolis represents the cradle of democracy and the sublime art of antiquity.

But to crime writer Petros Markaris, the Athens of today is both a peaceful Balkan haven and a symbol of the ugliness of modern, corrupt societies. In his detective novels, he takes on the financial and social crises sweeping Greece.

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6:41am

Fri August 12, 2011
Europe

European Central Bank Orders Italy To Reduce Debt

Originally published on Mon August 22, 2011 12:29 pm

With Italy in the crosshairs of the eurozone debt crisis, the European Central Bank is dictating to Rome the measures it should take to reduce its massive debt mountain.

But the government is divided over draconian measures that go against the grain of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's populist policies.

MP's of the Budget and Constitutional Affairs Committees were summoned back to Rome from their vacations for an emergency session — many of them tanned and fitter than usual.

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5:20pm

Tue August 9, 2011
Europe

Italians Bristle At The Price Of Financial Help

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, right, and Finance minister Giulio Tremonti at a new conference in Rome on Aug. 5. The European Central Bank has agreed to help Italy with its debt crisis, but is demanding tough austerity measures.
Andrew Medichini AP

This week, Italy became the front-line in the battle to save the euro.

But it isn't the Italians taking the lead. With indecision in Rome, the European Central Bank took the unprecedented move of dictating budget-cutting policies to the third largest economy in the euro-zone.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will now have to accelerate tough austerity measures in exchange for help to solve the country's debt crisis.

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4:00am

Thu August 4, 2011
Europe

Berlusconi Speech Falls Flat As Crisis Looms In Italy

Originally published on Thu August 4, 2011 12:35 pm

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a debate on the Italian economic situation Wednesday at the Parliament in Rome. In a speech aimed at soothing concerns over a possible debt crisis, he said, "We have solid economic fundamentals. Our banks have liquidity and are solvent."
Tiziana Fabi AFP/Getty Images

Alarm is spreading through international markets as Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, risks being sucked into the debt crisis. After a long silence, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi addressed Parliament — and insisted that the country's economy is strong, while rebuffing opposition calls for his resignation.

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4:29am

Fri July 29, 2011
World

Immigration, Integration Draw Attention In Norway

Originally published on Fri July 29, 2011 1:50 pm

People gather outside Oslo City Hall on Monday to participate in a "rose march" in memory of the victims of Friday's twin attacks in Norway. Anders Behring Breivik, who admitted to the attacks but entered a plea of not guilty, said he wanted to save Europe from Muslim immigration.
Emilio Morenatti AP

The brutal twin attacks in Norway last week by self-proclaimed Christian crusader Anders Behring Breivik have reignited an immigration debate in what had appeared to be the most serene multicultural society in Europe.‪ Norway's long-standing reputation as a welcoming haven for immigrants is being tested as its Muslim population grows.

Many immigrants live in the Oslo neighborhood of Greenland. There are a few indigenous Norwegians, but they rush by.‪ Many women shopping at grocery stores wear the hijab.‪

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