Author and mafia expert Carl Russo is working on an illustrated travel guide about the Sicilian Mafia and needs our help!
In the story below (and the video above) Carl will explain everything. For those that want to contribute but are in a hurry and have no time to read the whole story, simply go to www.indiegogo.com/MafiaGuide and make a donation. Donors get a special something extra so it’s win-win!
By Carl Russo
In spring of 2006, the people of Sicily were celebrating more than the passing of another cruel winter. Italy's most-wanted Mafia chief, Bernardo Provenzano, had just been arrested after 43 years on the run. The headlines read like pulp fiction: Mafia godfather nabbed in shack outside Corleone surrounded by religious icons.
I happened to be traveling across the island a few weeks after Provenzano's capture. The godfather's shack: I had to see it! After two days of pestering Corleonese baristas and hotel staff, I located the tiny adobe hovel in the mountains above that Mafia stronghold of fact and fiction.
But then I had to see the courtyard where the bullet-ridden body of the bandit Giuliano was photographed by reporters for the world to see. Where was that?
"There oughta be a book," I said. Famous last words.
First came the blog, Mafia Exposed, filled with my photos of Sicilian Mafia hotspots: murder sites, police massacres, mob homes, hangouts, hideouts, the gravesites of dons and victims alike. The images are accompanied by my heavily researched essays.
Some have been published under a pseudonym at Sabotage Times.
But the blog contains only a portion of my work. There is so much more.
Then came the book deal.
The Sicilian Mafia: An Illustrated Travel Guide will be released in January 2014 by Strategic Media Books. The softcover book is projected to have 275 pages and approximately 200 black-and-white photographs.
Despite the book deal, there is no money for a final trip to collect the last batch of locations. That's where you come in!
A Mafia "travel guide?"
Sicily's position in the middle of Mediterranean trade routes made its people prey for numerous foreign powers through the millennia. Despite its unfortunate history, the island is unsurpassed in beautiful historical monuments, from ancient Greek temples to baroque churches. And don't forget beaches like paradise and food from heaven! Anyone who visits Sicily will never forget the experience.
Unfortunately, it is also synonymous with the Cosa Nostra, an ongoing phenomenon related to its turbulent past. What may seem to some like an insensitive book project is actually a way of shedding light on the problem. And light is always deleterious to the Mafia.
We're all interested in stories of the Mafia. No sense in denying our curiosity about criminality. Dozens of books about the Mafia are published each year in Italy, more than in any other country. To be sure, they are lurid. But they are written with respect for the victims and in solidarity with the strong anti-Mafia movement in that country.
It is in that spirit that I present the very first Sicilian Mafia travel guide in any language. No hotels or restaurant reviews. Just the down and dirty about locations you can see on your own travels, whether in Sicily or from the comfort of your armchair.
Take the journey with me
Contributing to this campaign at $25 and above will put you on my private email list. You'll receive missives from the field as I work undercover in Mafialand. I have many tried-and-true methods for "getting the shot," but anything can happen. I am full of stories about my previous adventures.
I'm also offering a late draft of the book on PDF file months before the book launch. There are also signed photos and an anti-Mafia T-shirt at the upper levels. Added perk at the $50-and-up levels: a hadnwritten postcard from Corleone. This is good for everyone who has already contributed at those levels.
This is not a vacation. I start working the moment I'm handed the car keys at the Palermo airport. No beach time. No museums. Like any location shoot, it's a battle for daylight.
Fortunately for my contributors, I have perfected low-budget travel in Sicily, not the least of which is going in the low season. One constant is that food, car rental and gas bill are about equal for a ten-day trip (gas is nearly $9 a gallon, and I rack up the miles each day). Here's a rough breakdown of the $3,600 budget:
Car Rental $400
Fees & Misc. $400
If you can't contribute money, please put your best social media skills to use and get the word out. Indiegogo makes it easy with its share-tools for posting on your media and websites. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and at my home base, Mafia Exposed, as well as through campaign updates, clickable above.
But if you can contribute money, fire away!