Milan displays properties confiscated from the underworld

Almost 200 former mafia properties open to the public.

For the seventh time, Milan is opening almost 200 villas and other items of real estate to visitors from the public, confiscated from condemned mafiosi and leased to NGOs and non-profit organisations carrying out work of social value.

From 4 to 7 April, a programme of over 30 events – all free of entry charge, but some requiring booking – will give visitors and school groups a chance to see the lifestyle previously enjoyed by organised crime bosses and to meet journalists and authors who are studying the phenomenon.

Journalist, blogger and broadcaster Barbara Sorrentini has chaired the committee organising the programme of meetings, readings, discussions and simply guided visits to throw light on the way various mafia groups have penetrated the social fabric of Lombardy in general and Milan in particular.

Among the events, a confiscated property in Via Mosso 4, as yet unused, will be open on Sunday 7 April at 16.30 to consider proposals for projects of public interest.

The festival will close at 17.00 on Sunday at the largest confiscated property in Milan, Casa Chiaravalle (pictured) near San Donato.  Once the home of a ‘Ndrangheta boss, the villa now hosts Passpartout, a refuge for women in difficulty. Certificates of merit will be presented to volunteer organisations who have put sequestered mafia properties to public use, and the keys to four properties will be handed over to volunteers who have presented winning projects.

That the various organised crime mafia in Italy – Cosa Nostra, ‘Ndrangheta, Camorra and Sacra Corona Unita – have extended their activities into Lombardy is an ever more pressing reality. The region of which Milan is the capital is the fifth in line for confiscation of underworld companies and real estate.

PoliS Lombardia, an observatory set up by the regional government to monitor implementation of police, recently published a report detailing how organised crime is infiltrating sectors like commerce, tourism, entertainment, health, extortion, illegal drug trade, prostitution, shady massage parlours, loan-sharking and waste management.

Presenting the report, regional councillor Riccardo De Corato underlined how foreign mafias including Nigerians, Chinese and Albanians are now collaborating with the Italian underworld.