Calogero Vizzini

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Calogero Vizzini.jpg
Calogero Don Calò Vizzini (July 24, 1877 – July 10, 1954) was a historical Mafia boss of Villalba in the Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily. Vizzini was considered to be one of the most influential and legendary Mafia bosses of Sicily after World War II until his death in 1954. In the media he was often depicted as the "boss of bosses" – although such a position does not exist in the loose structure of Cosa Nostra.

He was the archetype of the paternalistic "man of honour" of a rural Mafia that disappeared in the 1960s and 1970s. In those days a mafioso was seen by some as a social intermediary and a man standing for order and peace. Although he used violence to establish his position in the first phase of his career, in the second stage he limited recourse to violence, turned to primarily legal sources of gain, and exercised his power in an open and legitimate fashion.

Vizzini is the central character in the history of direct Mafia support for the Allied Forces during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. After World War II he became the personification of the reinstatement of Cosa Nostra during the Allied occupation and the subsequent restoration of democracy after the repression under Fascist rule. Initially he supported the separatist movement, but changed allegiance to the Christian Democrat party, when it became clear that Sicilian independence was unfeasible.

When he died in 1954, thousands of peasants dressed in black, and high ranking mafiosi, politicians and priests took part in his funeral. The funeral epitaph stated that "his 'mafia' was not criminal, but stood for respect of the law, defense of all rights, greatness of character. It was love."