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.


4:24 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Pope Encounters Resistance On Some Reforms

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 6:29 pm

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5:21 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 9:07 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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4:35 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.

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 8:28 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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3:26 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 7:00 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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4:48 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Vatican Tries To Mend Fences With American Nuns

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:46 pm

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4:23 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 7:12 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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4:23 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 2:29 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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4:31 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 8:19 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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6:13 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 9:58 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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10:36 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 1:51 pm

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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4:27 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Vatican Arrests One Of Its Own On Child Sex Abuse Charges

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 6:14 pm

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7:50 am
Sun September 14, 2014

Italy's 'Little Jerusalem' Opens The Doors To Jewish History

The medieval town of Pitigliano is perched atop a massive volcanic rock, looking out over vineyards and olive groves. It was once home to a vibrant Jewish community, treated with civility or cruelty depending on who was in charge of the city; now, the town works to preserve and share the cultural history of Italian Jews.
Michela Simoncini Flickr

Originally published on Sun September 14, 2014 11:56 am

Twenty-seven European countries are marking the European Day of Jewish Culture on Sunday — an initiative aimed at opening the doors of Jewish communities, heritage sites and culture to the non-Jewish world, as well as deepening Jews' own knowledge of their history in Europe.

One of the most enthusiastic participants is Italy, where some 70 towns and cities are holding festivals, exhibits and concerts linked to Jewish traditions.

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4:56 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 12:13 pm

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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5:25 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Italy Unexpectedly Slips Into Recession

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 8:09 am

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4:08 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Costa Concordia's Rusty Hulk Embarks On A Final Voyage

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


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3:44 am
Wed July 16, 2014

The Grandes Dames Of The Sea Ply The Tuscan Waters

The vintage boats of Argentario Sailing Week, some more than a century old, plied the waters off Italy's Tuscan coast, known for its ideal sailing conditions.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:48 am

A most unusual regatta recently took place off Tuscany's southern coast: Vintage sailboats known as the Grandes Dames of the Sea — some more than 100 years old — plied the waters of Porto Santo Stefano, a fishing village known for ideal sailing conditions

Among the more than 40 yachts was one, Manitou, that was known as "the floating White House" when her owner was President John F. Kennedy.

The boat is made of mahogany — a 62-foot boat that weighs 30 tons, skipper Alex Tillery says proudly. In contrast, he says, a modern 62-footer would probably weigh 8 tons.

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4:15 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

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

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 6:24 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

The Salt
6:28 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 7:58 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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4:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Pope Meets Sex Abuse Victims, Bearing A Plea For Forgiveness

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



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.


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

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5:18 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Stopped By 'No One,' A Nun Wins Italy's 'The Voice'

After winning Italy's version of The Voice, Sister Cristina Scuccia thanks God on stage in Milan alongside her coach, Italian rapper J-Ax.
Marco Bertorello Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 11:49 am

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