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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Religion
5:57 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI To Become 'Pope Emeritus' After Stepping Down

On his last full day as Pope, Benedict XVI had his final general audience in St. Peter's Square before a crowd estimated at 150,000 people. He had a more personal message than usual, saying his resignation was dictated by his ailing health and declining speech. He spoke of the moments of joy in his papacy, but also of turbulent seas and rough winds when it seemed like the lord was sleeping.

Europe
5:21 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Italian Election Results Cause Market Jitters

The Five Star Movement's Beppe Grillo is shown on TV Monday at the Democratic Party press center in Rome. The prospect of political paralysis hung over Italy as election results showed the upstart protest campaign making stunning inroads, and mainstream forces of center-left and center-right wrestling for control of Parliament's two houses.
Alessandra Tarantino AP

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 12:43 pm

Italian elections have hurled a tsunami against the system: An upstart anti-establishment party that rejects European Union-dictated austerity measures is now the single biggest party in Parliament. Newspaper headlines proclaim the country ungovernable, and world financial markets are spooked by the prospect of gridlock in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

Thanks to a byzantine election law, the center-left Democratic Party came in first by a slim majority. But it can't govern alone.

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Europe
3:28 am
Fri February 22, 2013

'The Real Jiminy Cricket': Unlikely Candidate Upends Italian Elections

Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo addresses supporters at a rally on Feb. 12 in Bergamo, Italy. Many pollsters say his populist Five Star Movement could come in third in this weekend's election.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:24 am

Italy's election campaign has been dominated by an upstart comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is soaring in the polls. The movement is not expected to win in the weekend vote, but its strong presence in Parliament could be destabilizing and reignite the eurozone crisis.

Beppe Grillo is a standup comedian and the country's most popular blogger; 63 years old, with a mane of grey curly hair, he's hyperactive and foul-mouthed. His last name means "cricket," and he's the most charismatic politician in Italy today.

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NPR Story
5:41 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Italy's Berlusconi Returns From Political Graveyard

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 12:33 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Italy, elections begin this coming Sunday and voters appear disoriented by a motley array of parties. Even political analysts are finding it difficult to explain how the disgraced former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has managed to resurrect himself.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that he's pulled his rightist coalition into second place, just behind the center-left Democratic Party.

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Europe
2:58 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Greece's Economic Crisis Reveals Fault Lines In The Media

People read newspaper headlines in Athens. In 2009, there were 39 national dailies, 23 national Sunday papers, 14 national weekly papers and dozens of TV and radio stations for a population of 11 million.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 7:05 pm

Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs.

Many people believe the country's news media have failed to cover the crisis — and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.

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Religion
5:01 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Pope: Resignation Is 'For The Good Of The Church'

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 9:44 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.

Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance today since announcing his resignation. He will be the first pope to step down in 600 years. Today, Benedict told thousands of faithful that he's confident his decision will not harm the church.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has our story.

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Religion
4:48 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Simultaneous Popes Could Disrupt Catholic Church

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 6:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world today with his decision to step down at the end of this month. It is the first papal resignation since the 15th century. The Vatican says a new pope may be elected before Easter, but as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, it's not clear how the church will function with two living popes.

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Remembrances
11:41 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI: A Champion Of Catholic Tradition

Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation Monday, was an ardent defender of Catholic tradition. For a quarter-century before he become the pontiff in 2005, he served as the chief enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy.
Vicenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 1:52 pm

On April 19, 2005, when wisps of white smoke puffed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Catholic Church had its first German pope since the 11th century.

Just one day before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered a homily that, many analysts later said, became the platform of his papacy.

He denounced modern trends he said were undermining Catholicism and Western civilization.

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Religion
10:16 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Benedict XVI, Vatican's Traditionalist Enforcer, Steps Down

The first German pope in a thousand years is a cold, distant intellectual who never served as a parish priest. Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican Enforcer, became Pope Benedict XVI. As successor to John Paul II, Benedict was never as beloved by the faithful but still attracted crowds matching those of his media-savvy predecessor.

The Two-Way
10:53 am
Sat February 9, 2013

Knights Of Malta Celebrates 900th Anniversary At Vatican

Knights of the Order of Malta walk in procession toward St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 900th anniversary of the Order of the Knights of Malta, on Saturday at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican received a special treat Saturday, when some 4,000 members of the Knights of Malta marched in procession to the tomb of St. Peter.

The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II. On Saturday, the Knights attended Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and received an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

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Europe
3:39 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Privatization Of Greek Assets Runs Behind Schedule

Employees of Hellenic Postbank protest during a strike against the bank's privatization in Athens, in December.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.

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Europe
10:45 am
Mon February 4, 2013

For Greeks, Painful Cuts Keep Tearing At The Social Fabric

Georgia Kolia, 63, has two adult children, both unemployed. She works as a volunteer distributing loaves of bread at the Agia Zonis Orthodox church soup kitchen for the poor in Athens, Greece, in April 2012.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:12 pm

Greeks are feeling the squeeze. The social repercussions of three years of austerity measures imposed by international lenders are hitting hard. Thousands of businesses have shut down, unemployment is nearly 27 percent and rising, and the once dependable safety net of welfare benefits is being pulled in.

With further cutbacks and tax hikes about to kick in, Greece's social fabric is being torn apart.

Nowhere are cutbacks more visible and painful than in health care.

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Europe
5:13 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Violence At Both Ends Of Political Spectrum Threatens Greece

A protester holds a petrol bomb during clashes with riot police after a demonstration against new austerity measures outside the parliament in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 7.
Aris Messinis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 8:33 pm

Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.

But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.

Take the latest explosion in Athens — a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.

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Europe
11:58 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Honoring 'Our Will To Live': The Lost Music Of The Holocaust

The Nazis imprisoned Czech composer Rudolf Karel (shown here in a sketch from 1945) for helping the resistance in Prague. He wrote his compositions down on toilet paper.
Courtesy of Francesco Lotoro

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 9:56 am

For the past two decades, in a small town in southern Italy, a pianist and music teacher has been hunting for and resurrecting the music of the dead.

Francesco Lotoro has found thousands of songs, symphonies and operas written in concentration, labor and POW camps in Germany and elsewhere before and during World War II.

By rescuing compositions written in imprisonment, Lotoro wants to fill the hole left in Europe's musical history and show how even the horrors of the Holocaust could not suppress artistic inspiration.

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Europe
5:16 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Tax On Heating Oil Turns Greek Skies Black With Wood Smoke

Another new consequence of Greece's economic crisis is that the skies of Athens and other cities are filled with smoke due to the increase in the use of wood burning stoves. The cost of heating oil has gone up 40 percent — a tax increase imposed by the troika. The Greek Environment ministry has issued a warning that the increase in pollutants in the air is posing public health risk.

Shots - Health News
6:03 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

German Lawmakers Move To Quell Uproar Over Circumcision

A rabbi holds up a pillow used during ritual circumcision at a synagogue in Berlin.
Markus Schreiber AP

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 12:38 pm

Circumcisions have been virtually suspended in Germany for the past four months. The practice was effectively banned after a regional court in Cologne ruled that circumcision amounts to assault.

That controversial ruling this summer alienated the country's 120,000 registered Jews and 4 million Muslims, who saw it as a violation of religious freedom. It also fueled accusations of intolerance in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.

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Europe
12:25 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

With A Database, Germany Tracks Rise Of Neo-Nazis

Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers march on Feb. 13 to commemorate the World War II firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied planes. Concerns about far-right extremism have grown in Germany after the discovery last year of an extreme far-right cell believed to have carried out a decade-long crime spree, including the murder of 10 people, mainly Turkish shopkeepers, bank robberies and bombs.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 5:13 pm

The spread of neo-Nazi influence in Germany came to light fully last year with the shocking discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for the worst right-wing violence since World War II.

At least nine people of migrant origin were murdered, and there were bomb attacks and bank robberies.

In response, Germany last month established the first centralized neo-Nazi database, similar to those that existed for decades for Islamic and leftist extremists.

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Europe
3:26 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Vatican II: A Half-Century Later, A Mixed Legacy

Thousands of faithful Catholics carry torches in a procession in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Oct. 11, 1962, the opening day of the historic Second Vatican Council. Over a three-year period, more than 2,000 bishops from around the world issued 16 landmark documents, which championed a more inclusive, less hierarchical and open church.
Girolamo Di Majo AP

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 8:23 am

At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.

As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.

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Europe
2:58 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes

Bavarian bishops walk in a procession to the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers near Bad Staffelstein, Germany, in May. A decree by the German bishops' conference warns that German Catholics who do not pay a state church tax will be denied sacraments.
Daniel Karmann EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:02 pm

Germany's bishops have a clear message for the country's 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.

Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.

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Europe
7:54 am
Sun September 23, 2012

Italy's Fiat Woes A Symptom Of Industrial Malady

Automaker Fiat threatened to shutter operations in Italy.
AFP Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:22 pm

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

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