The lives of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino are intertwined from the beginning. Both were born in Palermo: Giovanni on May 20, 1939, Paolo 8 months later, on January 19. And
Both grew up in the Kalsa, the ancient quarter of Arab origin of Palermo, an area of professors, traders and exponents of the middle class. They lived a few tens of meters away from each other and were friends since childhood: they found themselves playing in Piazza della Magione.
In little Giovanni’s life there were school, Catholic Action and few entertainment. For the austere father, travel and vacation did not exist.
In the Borsellino home, on the other hand, the atmosphere was more lively: there were often friends visiting and we discussed books and philosophy. At school Paolo didn’t miss a beat. In Greek he was 10, he got up at 5 in the morning to study and his prodigious memory did the rest. His parents owned a pharmacy in via della Vetreria, and this is also why his father was an authority in the neighborhood.
Giovanni and Paolo both attended classical high school. For the first, secondary schools were particularly important: thanks to his professor of history and philosophy, Franco Salvo, he learned to escape dogmas and cultivate doubt, to the point of abandoning the rite of Sunday mass with his mother. After high school he entered the Military Academy of Livorno, then thought better of it and enrolled in law.Borsellino, on the other hand, immediately opted for law studies, but while he was attending university his father died, and the economic conditions of his family worsened. Despite the difficulties, at the age of 22 he graduated with 110 cum laude.
At the beginning of the eighties the situation in Palermo was changing rapidly. Falcone had noticed that the suspects and members of the gangs under investigation were often killed or mysteriously disappeared. The reason? A mafia war had begun, which between the last months of 1981 and the first of 1982 caused one death every three days in the Sicilian capital. In the end, the victims were about 1,200, a civil war figure, which thinned the ranks of the enemy gangs of the “chief of the bosses”, Totò Riina. The “war” ended in 1983, but already the year before the violence of the Corleonesi had turned against the state, killing all the magistrates who hindered the work of the DOME.
Thanks to the commitment of many RIGHT people, the maxi-trial arrived, with 475 defendants; it was the largest attack on the mafia ever conducted in Italy. It began on 10 February 1986. Defeated in the maxi-trial that cost him a life sentence, Totò Riina wanted to take revenge, to begin with, on those who had not guaranteed him impunity: on 12 March 1992, in Mondello, the beach of Palermo , Salvo Lima, head of the Andreottian current in Sicily, was assassinated. It was the first step towards the Capaci massacre of 23 May, in which, in addition to Falcone, also his wife Francesca Morvillo – whom he had married in 1986 – and three men of the escort lost their lives.
Alone and wounded in the following two months Paolo Borsellino worked with frenetic intensity. He felt important repentants, he traveled continuously – he who was afraid of the plane – and had a meeting (from which he left troubled) with the Minister of the Interior Nicola Mancino, who however always declared that he did not remember that interview.
On July 19 it was very hot in Palermo. The magistrate decided to visit his mother in via D’Amelio. Two minutes before 5 pm, the explosion of the car bomb that killed him and 5 of the escort…. Was heard throughout Palermo. Thus closes a page in Italian history where two exceptional people wanted to stop and eradicate a dirty and cruel world like the MAFIOSO one.
Totò Riina died on November 17, 2017 in the detention department of the Ospedale Maggiore in Parma, while Bernardo Provenzano died while serving a life sentence under the 41 bis regime (the hard prison). The Corleonesi have been disjointed, but the fight against the mafia is still long.
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