By Angelo Carmelo Gallitto
Posted in 2003
Calogero Vizzini was born on July 24, 1877 in Villalba, in the Sicilian province of Caltanissetta. This edge of middle Sicily, known as “Vallone”, was a sour and poor area, where people lived off subsistence agriculture. The father of Calogero was a farmer, and his brothers Giovanni and Giuseppe were both priests, Giuseppe became the bishop of Muro Lucano.
Calogero, however, was semi-illiterate and didn’t finish the elementary studies. He was under protection of Francesco Paolo Varsallona, a fugitive criminal, reputed “man of honour”, who made a living by extorting large landowners and bandits, around the lands of the village; he supplied manpower to nobles in order to repress farmers’ revolts. When Varsallona was arrested in 1903, the young Vizzini was already a real “gabellotto”, in friendship with barons and marquises, and he was going to climb Honoured Society’s ranks.
In 1917, he was sentenced to 20 years in first level for fraud, corruption and murder, but he was absolved thanks to some friends who exculpated him. He was becoming richer and richer, and in 1919 he already owned a lot of fields, shops and sulphur mines. In 1931, during the Fascist dictatorship of Mussolini, he was banned from Sicily for a few years because he was a suspected member of the mafia; according to police he was involved in several crimes and he had connections with other Sicilian bosses and also around United States. He returned to Villalba in 1937, received and respected by the entire village. In 1943, Calogero Vizzini drove the American army, ran by Charles Poletti, from Gela to Caltanissetta; most of the soldiers had Sicilian origins and they knew the local dialect. Vizzini was designated mayor of Villalba because of his help, and a lot of bosses were released from prison; that was the end of the Fascism and the new rise of the mafia.
In 1949 Vizzini and Italian-American boss Vito Genovese opened a factory in Palermo, which police suspected was a cover for heroin trafficking. Later he was photographed with Salvatore “Lucky Luciano” Lucania in front of a Palermo hotel. His tentacles reached all around the United Stated. In Philadelphia, where he was in friendship with the future family boss Angelo Annaloro, known as “Angelo Bruno”, born in Villalba. He died on July 10, 1954, hundreds of people took part in his funeral, included Mussomeli boss Giuseppe Genco Russo.