NAPLES, Italy — An unusual food market opens in Naples this weekend, but it’s not the food that makes the Addiopizzo market unique.
Addiopizzo means "goodbye, pizzo," with pizzo being the fee the mafia extorts from business owners. The vendors in the Addiopizzo market are people who refuse to pay protection money to the mafia.
This weekend, the market comes to Piazza Dante in downtown Naples. It begins at 6 p.m. Saturday and about 11 a.m. on Sunday, and will run late into the night on both days.
The Addiopizzo movement began in 2004 when some entrepreneurs looking to open a pub in Palermo, Sicily, decided they weren’t going to pay the protection money. Soon, the town was inundated with stickers proclaiming "A population that pays the pizzo is a people without dignity."
Now, there are almost 300 businesses that have joined the movement, according to the Addiopizzo Web site.
"As long as somebody continues to pay the pizzo we will not be free," the movement’s Web site states. "Because if my baker pays the pizzo, I am giving money to the mafia when I buy bread too, and so I submit myself to the mafia."
Alessia Rottolo, a spokeswoman with Addiopizzo says the markets are very well received.
"Our goal is to turn public opinion against racketeering," Rottolo said. "We want to get people involved by attending the markets to bring public pressure against racketeering."
Businesses pay an estimated 80 million euros a day in extortion payments, according to a widely publicized report, Confesercenti, the Italian national retailers association. The Palermo prosecutor’s office estimates that 80 percent of business owners in the city pay the pizzo.
Food vendors refusing to pay the pizzo make up Palermo’s Addiopizzo food market on Sundays, and earlier this year the organization decided to take the movement on the road.
Mafia-free food markets are planned in several major cities in Italy. The first one was in Rome at the end of March. Officials estimated attendance at 20,000.
For more information on Addiopizzo, visit the Web site at: addiopizzo.org Most of the site is in Italian.