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
5:43 am
Sat April 18, 2015

Latest Mediterranean Incident Highlights Italy's Migrant Crisis

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 8:59 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Parallels
1:29 am
Thu April 9, 2015

Rome's Plan For Prostitutes Upsets Sex Workers And The Catholic Church

The Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica is in Rome's EUR district. The area has seen a rise in prostitution, and authorities have approved plans for a red light zone where prostitution will be officially tolerated in certain areas. While much of the community appears to support the move, Catholic groups are among those opposed, saying it legitimizes the exploitation of women.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 7:40 am

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.

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Parallels
3:08 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Architect Renzo Piano: The Future Of Europe's Cities Is In The Suburbs

Italian architect Renzo Piano talks to journalists in Paris in 2014.
Eric Feferberg AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 10:16 am

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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World
6:23 am
Sun March 8, 2015

For Women's Day, Group Takes A Messge To The Vatican

Originally published on Sun March 8, 2015 11:08 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Two-Way
10:06 am
Thu February 26, 2015

James Bond Meets His Match — The Roman Cobblestone

Pedestrians cross the cobblestone Via dei Fori Imperiali in front of Rome's Colosseum.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 3:54 pm

The headline in today's La Repubblica was, "The streets of Rome bring Bond to a standstill — car hits pothole, Craig suffers head injury."

The newspaper reported that the accident occurred while actor Daniel Craig, reprising the role of the suave British spy in the 24th James Bond thriller, Spectre, was driving one of the movie's four custom-made Aston Martins on a narrow cobblestone street near the Vatican.

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The Two-Way
9:51 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Dutch Soccer Fans Vandalize Rome's La Barcaccia Fountain

A worker shows a destroyed fragment of the fountain called "Barcaccia," at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. The fountain was damaged in clashes as Dutch soccer fans rampaged through the city.
Claudio Peri AP

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 10:58 am

Some 7000 fans of the Rotterdam soccer team Feyenoord are believed to have traveled to Rome for yesterday's Europa League game against AS Roma.

The game ended in a draw, 1-1, a needed anticlimax after two days of street battles.

On Wednesday, tourists fled and shops hurriedly closed their shutters as Dutch soccer fans took over the central marketplace known as Campo de' Fiori — Field of Flowers — and left it a field of trash.

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Europe
3:00 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Italian Island Bears The Brunt Of Migrant Surge From Libya

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 5:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Religion
6:43 am
Sat February 14, 2015

With New Cardinals, Pope Aims To Widen Horizons Of Church Leadership

Pope Francis leads the consistory at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. In addition to 15 new electors, Pope Francis named five new cardinals who are over the age of 80 and, therefore, ineligible to vote in a conclave.
Franco Origlia Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 8:54 am

The Vatican was a sea of red vestments Saturday, as Pope Francis formally elevated 20 new cardinals. In a solemn ceremony known as a consistory, the second in Francis' two-year-old papacy, he presided over nearly the entire College of Cardinals at St. Peter's Basilica.

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Religion
2:24 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Pope Encounters Resistance On Some Reforms

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 4:29 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Religion
3:21 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Papal Group Considers Sanctions On Bishops Who Cover Up Abuse

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston arrives for a meeting of a Vatican commission on sex abuse at the Vatican on Saturday. O'Malley heads the group.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:07 am

A commission advising Pope Francis on how to tackle clerical sex abuse of minors has completed its first full meeting at the Vatican. The commission, which has been criticized for its slow start, says it's now drawing up recommended sanctions against bishops who have covered up cases of abuse.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, head of the commission, told reporters it's drafting practical recommendations on making bishops accountable for cover-ups and failure to prevent abuse.

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Parallels
2:35 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Decades After His Murder, An Archbishop Is Put On Path To Sainthood

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (shown in 1977) was gunned down in a church in San Salvador in 1980 after criticizing a government crackdown. He had been celebrating Mass at the time.
AP

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 6:28 am

Archbishop Oscar Romero was one of the most prominent and controversial religious figures in Latin America when he was gunned down in 1980 during the early stages of El Salvador's civil war. His legacy has been debated ever since.

But just this week, Pope Francis ruled that Romero was killed "out of hatred for the faith," making him a martyr and setting the stage for his beatification.

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Parallels
1:26 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Pope Francis And His Gift For Blending The Spiritual And The Political

Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience, on Dec. 17, in Vatican City. Even among non-Catholics, the pope's popularity is high.
Franco Origlia Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 5:00 am

In the 21 months since his election, the first pope to take the name of Saint Francis has emerged as a moral leader on the global stage, addressing both Catholics and the world beyond.

A recent Pew worldwide survey showed an overwhelmingly favorable view of the pope. And that was before his crucial role in the U.S.-Cuba thaw was revealed.

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Parallels
2:23 pm
Thu November 27, 2014

In A Land Of Few Christians, Pope Will Reach Out To Muslims In Turkey

Pope Francis waves in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican. The pope heads to Turkey on Friday, a country with few Catholics, but he plans to reach out to Muslims and to the Orthodox Church.
Tony Gentile Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 5:12 pm

Pope Francis is heading to Turkey for what could be one of the most challenging trips of his young papacy.

The three-day visit, which begins Friday, will be a mix of the religious and political, with the pope addressing topics ranging from Christian unity to the worsening plight of Christians in the Muslim-dominated Middle East.

While the Catholic and Orthodox churches have been divided since the "Great Schism" nearly a millennium ago, Francis will attend Sunday's celebration of St. Andrew, patron saint of the Greek Orthodox Church.

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Religion
2:23 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Catholic Synod Highlights Divisions, Sets Stage For Future Battles

Pope Francis attends a session of the two-week synod at the Vatican that wrapped up over the weekend. The usually predictable event produced a robust debate among the bishops on how the Catholic Church should deal with gays as well as Catholics who are divorced or remarried.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 12:29 pm

Over the past few decades, assemblies of Roman Catholic bishops meeting in Rome, known as synods, have been predictable events that have always upheld the viewpoints of the reigning pope.

But with the widely popular Pope Francis, nothing is predictable.

A two-week-long synod on family issues that wound up this weekend was tumultuous, and the results showed a church deeply divided over how to deal with gays and with divorced and remarried Catholics.

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Parallels
2:15 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

For Italy's Gay Rights Advocates, It's 1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Counterdemonstrators in favor of LGBT rights wear pink triangles, reminiscent of those homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 6:19 pm

Ancient Rome may have been open to all sorts of sexual mores, but modern Italy is less so. The country lags far behind its European Union partners in guaranteeing equal rights for homosexuals.

Gay couples have no legal recognition or adoption rights in Italy, and a bill presented last year outlawing discrimination on the grounds of homophobia has been bogged down in parliament by right-wing opposition.

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Parallels
4:03 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

In 'Season Of Mercy,' Will Vatican Rethink Communion For Divorcees?

Faithful hold candles during a vigil prayer in preparation for the synod on the family on Oct. 4, at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 7:58 am

Some 200 bishops from around the world are gathered at the Vatican for a two-week assembly to discuss issues related to the family, including artificial contraception, premarital sex and ministering gay unions.

But one of the most controversial is a proposal to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion — taboo in church doctrine for 2,000 years.

In February, Pope Francis tapped one of his favorite theologians, German Cardinal Walter Kasper, to address a meeting of all the cardinals.

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Religion
8:36 am
Sun October 5, 2014

Vatican Synod Tests The Pope's Vision Of A More Merciful Church

Archbisop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan (left) attends the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday in Vatican City. The two-week conference will discuss family issues, including controversial topics like divorce and contraception.
Franco Origlia Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 5, 2014 11:51 am

Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.

The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.

Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.

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Religion
2:27 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Vatican Arrests One Of Its Own On Child Sex Abuse Charges

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 4:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
2:56 am
Sun August 24, 2014

Italy Undertakes Lonely, Expensive Mission To Aid Migrants At Sea

A slide of migratory flows in the Mediterranean Sea from the Mare Nostrum operation is displayed in the control room of the Italian operation, which tracks and intercepts migrant ships en route to Europe.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Sun August 24, 2014 10:13 am

On the outskirts of Rome, far from the coast, there's a top-security compound where Italy is trying to tackle one of Europe's major crises: the rising flows of unauthorized migrants making perilous journeys from North Africa across the Mediterranean.

In all of 2011, the year of the Arab uprisings, slightly more than 60,000 migrants arrived by sea in Italy.

By mid-August this year, the number surpassed 100,000.

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Europe
2:15 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Over 2 Years Since Its Wreck, The Costa Concordia Floats Again

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 4:24 pm

The Costa Concordia cruise crashed into a reef and capsized in waters off the island of Giglio in Italy over two years ago. On Monday, the most complicated part of the operation to refloat the ship was completed successfully.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
4:16 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

This Fine Wine Made At An Italian Penal Colony Is No 2-Buck Chuck

Marquise Lamberto Frescobaldi (right), of the winemaking dynasty, talks with prisoners Brian Baldissin (left) and Francesco Papa at his vineyard on Gorgona island in June 2013.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 5:58 pm

Eighteen miles off Tuscany's coast, Gorgona is Italy's last island prison. Its steep cliffs rise up from azure Mediterranean waters. Here, a select group of convicts serves the end of long sentences by farming. And now, a legendary winemaker is training them to make high-end wine.

Mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy, Gorgona was for thousands of years a refuge for hermits and monks. Since 1869, it's been a penal colony.

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Religion
2:19 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Pope Meets Sex Abuse Victims, Bearing A Plea For Forgiveness

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 5:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

At the Vatican today Pope Francis had his first meeting with victims of clergy. He vowed to hold bishops accountable for the protection of children. The meeting came nearly 16 months after Francis was elected. Victim support groups said it was long overdue. For more on this NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us from Rome. Hello Sylvia.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Hello, Robert.

SIEGEL: And I understand the Pope held a Mass with these victims, including a dramatic homily. What did he say?

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Parallels
9:52 am
Wed May 21, 2014

The 1,000-Year-Old Schism That Pope Francis Seeks To Heal

Tourists walk past a poster of Pope Francis hanging on the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Monday. Pope Francis' trip to the Mideast later this week will commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox, who split nearly 1,000 years ago.
Mussa Qawasma Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 11:30 am

Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.

Meeting in Jerusalem in 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras set a milestone: They started the process of healing the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity of the year 1054.

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Middle East
1:33 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Pope To Travel To Holy Land With Rabbi And Muslim Leader

A Palestinian man works on a banner bearing a portrait of Pope Francis at a printing house in the West Bank city of Ramallah in anticipation of this week's papal visit.
Abbas Momani AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 2:24 pm

The first non-European pope in modern history will makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week, a region with centuries of religious strife.

Francis — the first pope to take the name of the saint of peace — will carry far less historical baggage than any of his predecessors.

When John Paul II visited Israel in 2000, he prayed at the Western Wall and apologized for the church's sins against Jews. Nine years later, at Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust, Benedict XVI urged that the names of the victims never perish, be denied or forgotten.

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Religion
5:36 am
Sun May 11, 2014

U.N. Panel Could Find Vatican Guilty Of Torture

Originally published on Sun May 11, 2014 9:47 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The Vatican got a grilling this past week for its handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal. The setting - a United Nations hearing in Geneva. Meanwhile in Rome, a new advisory board to Pope Francis held its first meeting on the sex abuse crisis.

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World
3:34 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

UN Committee Grills Vatican Officials On Sex Abuse

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 9:05 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

For the second time this year, Vatican officials were subjected to scathing questions by a U.N. panel. The questions focus on the church's handling of cases of sexual abuse by priests. The grilling came in two days of hearings in Geneva by the U.N. Committee on Torture. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is following this and joins me now. And, Sylvia, earlier this year, it was a U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that issued a very harsh report about clerical sex abuse. What is the Committee on Torture saying now, and is it different?

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Parallels
1:04 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

2,000 Buses Of Visitors: Rome Braces For Canonization Crowds

Tourists walk past a poster of Pope John Paul II on April 13 in Rome.
Gregorio Brogia AP

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 9:06 pm

The day after Easter, St. Peter's Square was packed.

Caramba Camarra, a Gambian volunteer with Opera Romana Pelligrinaggi, the Vatican-run pilgrimage agency, said he had never seen so many people lined up to visit the basilica.

"It's amazing! The line curves like a serpent, filling the whole square," he said. "It looks like the crowds at Mecca."

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News
2:05 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

In First Visit To The Vatican, Obama Finds Himself Moved

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 5:03 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Europe
3:05 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Obama And Pope Meet For First Time At The Vatican

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:18 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Parallels
12:35 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

The Sometimes Tricky Relations Between Popes And Presidents

President Obama and Michelle Obama meet Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2009. The president will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 6:24 pm

President Obama meets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, the 30th anniversary of formal relations between Washington and the Holy See, and against a backdrop of a sometimes turbulent history in U.S.-Vatican ties.

The first high-level bilateral contact was in 1788, as the Vatican foreign minister recalled recently. Speaking in a large renaissance hall, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti said President George Washington, through his envoy Benjamin Franklin, informed the Vatican that it did not need to seek authorization from the U.S. for the appointment of bishops.

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