Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's international desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia and how immigration has transformed European societies.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli has traveled extensively for reporting assignments. Most recently, she travelled to Norway to cover the aftermath of the brutal attacks by an ultra-rightwing extremist; to Greece, Spain, and Portugal for the latest on the euro-zone crisis; and the Balkans where the last wanted war criminals have been arrested.

In addition, Poggioli has traveled to France, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark to produce in-depth reports on immigration, racism, Islam, and the rise of the right in Europe.

Throughout her career Poggioli has been recognized for her work with distinctions including: the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, the Welles Hangen Award for Distinguished Journalism, a George Foster Peabody and National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Awards, the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize, 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 the war in Kosovo. In 2009, she received the Maria Grazia Cutulli Award for foreign reporting.

In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston together with Barack Obama.

Prior to this honor, 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. She worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

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 with a Bachelor's degree in Romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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Europe
1:13 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

With Cutbacks, Greeks Say Antiquities Are At Risk

The entrance to the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, is cordoned off last month, after two hooded thieves broke into the museum and made away with more than 70 ancient objects. The stolen loot included chariots, horses and a gold ring that was more than 3,000 years old. Greeks say such sites are vulnerable because of cutbacks that have reduced the number of guards.
Dimitris Papaioannoy EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 4:11 pm

At the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, lush pine trees and olive groves are filled with chirping birds. The one guard at the site looks nervously at the few visitors.

There is still a sense of shock in Olympia following the theft last month at the museum, when armed robbers broke into the building and tied up the single guard on duty.

Archaeologist Kostantinos Antonopoulos says they ran off with 77 priceless objects, including votive figurines, chariots and horses.

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Europe
10:01 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Portuguese Seeking Opportunities In Former Colonies

Protesters against government austerity measures march in front of the Finance Ministry in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this month. The country's debt crisis has prompted Portuguese workers to look to their country's former colonies for jobs.
Patricia de Melo Moreira AFP/Getty Images

Portugal is burdened with such big debts that some are calling it "the next Greece." Unemployment is soaring, and the debt continues to rise, despite draconian austerity measures.

But Portugal has something Greece doesn't have: former colonies, rich in natural resources and in need of labor, both skilled and unskilled. And in a type of role reversal, some Portuguese are now traveling to those places in hopes of improving their lives.

Antonio Valerio, who is studying pharmaceutical science at a university, is among those who see no future in Portugal.

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Europe
12:58 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Portugal Plays By The Rules, But Economy Slumps

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

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 9:25 am

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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Religion
2:36 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

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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NPR Story
2:00 am
Thu February 9, 2012

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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Europe
4:10 am
Sun February 5, 2012

For Reporter, Cruise Ship Disaster Is A Local Story

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

Originally published on Sun February 5, 2012 4:49 pm

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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Europe
10:01 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

In Italy, Art As A Window Into Modern Banking

Oil painting by Marinus van Reymerswaele.
Courtesy of Palazzo Strozzi

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:05 am

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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Europe
12:03 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

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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Europe
10:01 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

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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Europe
2:00 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Authorities Investigate Capsized Cruise Ship

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 4:50 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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Business
4:01 am
Sat January 7, 2012

Italian Shopkeepers Say 'No, Grazie' To More Hours

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

Originally published on Sat January 7, 2012 5:50 pm

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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World
10:01 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Italians Are Mostly Window Shopping This Christmas

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

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 8:19 pm

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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Remembrances
7:10 am
Sun December 18, 2011

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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Europe
2:00 am
Wed December 14, 2011

Italian Lawmaker to Debate Strict Austerity Measures

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 5:02 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Europe
2:22 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

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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Europe
2:00 am
Fri November 18, 2011

Italy's Government Criticizes Debt Crisis Response

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 3:33 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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Europe
1:41 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

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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World
10:01 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Tough Choices For Greece's Youth In Economic Crisis

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

Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 6:19 pm

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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Europe
2:00 am
Mon September 19, 2011

Greece Scrambles To Show It Can Cut Budget Deficit

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

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 1:43 pm

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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Europe
10:44 am
Tue September 13, 2011

Clerical Abuse Victims Seek Justice At World Court

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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Europe
4:41 am
Fri August 12, 2011

European Central Bank Orders Italy To Reduce Debt

Originally published on Mon August 22, 2011 10:29 am

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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Europe
3:20 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

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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Europe
2:00 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Berlusconi Speech Falls Flat As Crisis Looms In Italy

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

Originally published on Thu August 4, 2011 10:35 am

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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