Lonely Planet Writer

Mafia tourism big hit for Sicily but not all locals happy about link

Mafia figures likes Don Vita Corleone, Al Capone and Tony Soprano have led to a boom in tourist visits to Sicily – but without putting an omerta on the subject, it is safe to say the locals aren’t too happy about it.

The Godfather was released in 1972, having been filmed in Sicily as well as the USA
The Godfather was released in 1972, having been filmed in Sicily as well as the USA Image by Insomnia Cured Here / CC BY 2.0

Ever since the arrival of talking movies, the Mafia has captivated the public imagination for the violent figures it produced, particularly on the streets of US cities, most notably Chicago and New York.

Some tour companies offer mafia trips around Sicily's capital, Palermo
Some tour companies offer Mafia trips around Sicily’s capital, Palermo Image by gnuckx / CC BY 2.0

The intrigue of the Italian gangster families may have caused murder and mayhem in cinematic and real life in America, but it has led to a huge number of tourists journeying to Sicily to get a flavour of the origins of such infamous figures.


MailOnline reports that in particular there is a fascination by visitors to see where The Godfather, staring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, was filmed in the seventies.

This has led tour companies to organise trips to Savoca where Pacino as Michael Corleone began dating his wife in the first film ,while Brando took his film name Don Corleone from the village south of Palermo.

Tour operators such as Sicily-Tour, have routes to sites of Mafia activity in Palermo, Corleone and Siracusa.

There is even the opportunity to stay overnight in a former Don’s estate though this has now been turned into an organic-food Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast.

Overseas Adventure Travel even offers tourist the opportunity to talk to Angelo Provenzano, the son of notorious Mafia boss Bernardo ‘the boss of all bosses’ Provenzano, in which he will talk about his life as a kid growing up in the house of one of the Mafia’s most violent ever figures.

Sicilian tourism bosses are unhappy with such tours as it undoes much of the hard work undertaken in an attempt to shed the island of its gangster links.