For Sicilian Newspapers, Coffins a Hot Topic

Interesting post from fellow blogger/friend/author Carl Russo, who gave us the incredible The Sicilian Mafia: A True Crime Travel Guide:

What's up with Sicilian coffins this year? You just can’t keep ‘em down. It started with an article in La Repubblica last month about a finely crafted pine box that showed up at a wedding, in 2012, as a cruel gag gift. The bride also received a sinister message on her answering machine: “This coffin is not for your husband but for you and your entire malarazza”—a colossal dis of her family.

A trial bringing harassment charges to two men and a woman, former friends of the couple, began on January 30. Although the targets of the prank have decided not to sue, they issued the following (under)statement: “We’re not interested in money, but these are things you just don’t do.” The couple has left Sicily permanently. It was a truly sick joke, but at least the coffin was empty.

For the record, the deceased in Europe are typically placed in six-sided coffins, which are then sealed for eternity with a heavy lid, as opposed to the hinge-hatched bathtub caskets common to the US.

Wandering Sicilian cemeteries in search of graves of both mafiosi and their victims, I’ve seen many a coffin—usually factory-fresh and occupied, waiting to be lowered into the depths of terra firma. Occasionally, they remain on permanent display behind a glass-fronted crypt. More often, they’re slid into the niches of a mausoleum like the drawers of an enormous file cabinet.

Some years ago, while hunting Mafia locations in the Uditore neighborhood of Palermo, I came across a carpenter who builds coffins in his garage. A quick GoogleMaps search of the area brought up this image—obviously he’s still in business. ...


  1. Thanks for the link, Ed! I responded to your comment about this post.

  2. Hey Carl - just checked in to see if you'd noticed it -- thanks!


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