The Italian Almanac

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mafia

Italian News - July 18

Sicilian retailers are turning the tables on negative stereotypes about Italy and organized crime, by using the Mafia name to make honest cash. A number of shops have started selling T-shirts that play on the island's notorious links with Cosa Nostra, rather than playing them down. They say they are particularly popular with foreign tourists. One of the best sellers is a T-shirt which boldly states 'Mafia - Made in Italy'.

"We have been selling them since the start of May and they've been going really well," said Giovanni Ceraulo, the manager of the main Prima Visione branch in the centre of the city. "On average we sell 10 a day, even though the price of 32 euros is quite high". Another shop in the city's Via Bandiera has just started peddling an array of different Mafia souvenirs. These include T-shirts with "Gangster" emblazoned on the chest in big letters and others that take pride in giving PR to the likes of Al Capone.

The Mafia T-shirt business has reached the internet too. The www.cosanostra.it website has Mafia T-shirts in a wide variety of colours and designs. There are even different cuts for men and women. The 2006 spring-summer collection features a top that reads "Cosa Nostra Boss - Since 1919". Another, which features a man kneeling with gun in hand, reads "Just for Lucre".

The CosaNostra Tipico Style Italiano brand argues that its goods do not glorify the organized-crime world. "It is an ironic look at the stereotypes that form the tissue of the Italian way of life," the site says. "The aim is to show a certain rejection of (public) institutions, of everything that is imposed on us by society, in a fun way. At the same time it seeks to present an ironic view of something that is feared so much, like Cosa Nostra".