Southern Italy 01.09.2013 - 10.09.2013

Unfortunately, due to insufficient applications the trip to Southern Italy had to be canceled.


Social Change and anti-Mafia struggles in Southern Italy

This trip will take us to the Southern Italian regions Campania and Sicily. We will explore the bustling cities of Napoli and Palermo and the beautiful Sicilian inlands around Corleone (home town of the fictional character Don Corleone in The Godfather). Walking the paths of the Southern Italian labour rights, social equality and anti-mafia movements, we will discuss the history and contemporary role of organised crime and corruption and mismanagement on Southern Italian territory in general. We will look at these realities through the eyes of civil society movements, activists and young urban creatives (artists and entrepreneurs), and explore how they oppose and redefine their cultural, economic and socio-political heritage in a time of crisis and new opportunities.

Campania and Sicily have been assigned EU convergence region status and are beneficiaries of the EU social fund, aimed at increasing employment, investment and social and economic cohesion. However, stories of financial mismanagement by local institutions and politicians are frequently in the news, and local communities seem to see little outcomes from these investments. We are particularly interested in exploring how one of the most pressing challenges of Southern European countries, unemployment amongst young people, relates to mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. But more importantly, we want to hear what local communities and especially young people have to say about this and how they turn these challenges into opportunities to tackle the problems by their roots. For this reason, we will pay particular attention to visiting local businesses and projects that promote legality, sustainable lifestyles and fair work principles. We will also visit some projects that have been successfully implemented through EU social development funds and other EU funding schemes.

Things we want to accomplish on this trip

  • Explore the bustling cities of Napoli and Palermo through the eyes of local residents and activists
  • Understand how the legacy of organised crime shaped Southern Italian mentality and contemporary political and economic affairs
  • Meet civil society organisations and young creatives who oppose corruption and organised crime, and see how they redefine local communities and business practices
  • Compare the images transmitted through popular representations of the Mafia, such as in the movie The Godfather, with the realities of the area around Corleone
  • Get in touch with social innovation and environmental sustainability movements
  • Reflect on the role Swiss financial institutions and corporate multinationals play in all this, and discuss the image of Switzerland with local communities


Civil society organisations, social activists and fair businesses will accompany us throughout the trip. Besides meeting experts from EU associated bodies and local universities, we will mainly focus on interacting with local communities working on the ground. We will for example visit social cooperatives engaged in organic farming and offering secure employment to formerly unemployed people, sleep over in Agriturismi established on confiscated Mafia land and go on guided city tours run by African immigrants or young artists. In your free time you will have the opportunity to embark on individual city explorations, go to the beach or hike and relax in the beautiful Sicilian inlands.

More information

Please consider land and sea routes when you travel from/to Switzerland. Given that the whole trip is organised around sustainability principles, we encourage slow and environmentally friendly travelling. If you book early (max. one month ahead, better two) train fares are up to 50% cheaper, and if we book for a group of minimum 10 people, there will be an additional 20% discount. Besides Trenitalia, also check prices for the new (and very reliable) fast train “Italo Treno” which is often cheaper than Trenitalia. You can for example take a train from Switzerland to Napoli on your way there, and after the trip, travel back from Palermo to Genova by ferry (Genova is also a city worth exploring by the way!), and from there take a train back to Switzerland. Please get in touch with the organisers for group bookings.