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Old 06-27-2008, 08:56 PM
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Salvatore Giuliano was born on November 16th 1922 in the western Sicilian mountain village of Montelepre which means "The Mountain of the hare". He was the last of a long line of Sicilian mountain bandits and the last of the "honorable" men. The mountain bandits of Sicily have nothing to do with the city mafiosos.They were a breed unto themselves with a special code of honor and morals. They were truly the friends of the poor and they gave freely of their plunder of the rich to the poor. Turridu (the diminutive of Salvatore) was no different and even today you will find older people in the mountain villages around Palermo who still sing his praises. Even I remember as a boy my father and uncles talking about him. Our family connection to Turridu is very strong but that is another story.

Salvatore went to school until the end of primary school at which time he had to go to work but he didn't stop studying and went to the local priest and the local school teacher to continue is studies on his own. He was a very well read man with a great amount of culture for a Sicilian "campagnolo" and he used his knowledge to help his people. Giuliano's life in banditry, like many, came out of necessity.

During World War II foodstuffs were in very short supply on the island and Sicily is known as Italy's "breadbasket" because it is the largest wheat producer in the country. The farmers were made to turn all of their wheat over to the government, the hated central government of Rome. They were not allowed to keep any of it for themselves as they did before the war. Wheat was ration like everything else and anyone caught hoarding it or hiding it was guilty of a crime. But many farmers hid enough to feed their own people but the problem was milling the wheat. All of the mills were guarded by troops from the mainland so they could not be used. To this end the elder Giuliano built a small secret mill and the famers took this wheat to him for milling and later for distribution to the people of the area.

The eldest brother provided wheat for Giuliano's family, but he was called to war too. It was up to Salvatore , just twenty years old, at the time, to provide the necessities for his family.
He was inexperienced of the modus operandi used in moving the wheat and so on the 2nd of September 1943, he ran into a patrol of two country wardens and two carabinieri (rural police). His prayers and explanations were of no use. He was accused of smuggling two sacks of wheat of about forty kilos each. They seized his mule and wheat. They wanted to arrest and take him to the "American garrison". He showed his documents and asked to be denounced but not to be arrested. He thought that the soldiers were convinced, when they saw four mules overloaded. They were in any case real smugglers.
The young Giuliano was left free and alone. He tried to flee but the soldiers fired six times at him. He was hit twice in his hip.

The carabiniero Giuseppe Mancino was ordered to finish him off, if he was still alive. Giuliano, who heard this, leaped forward and wounded him seriously with a pistol which he had kept in his boot. The soldier died of his wounds the following day, while Giuliano regained his full health after a month struggling for his life. He then sought refuge in the hills around Montelepre.

And this is how Turrido became the last mountain bandit of Sicily. In his politics he was anti-communist, anti-Mafioso and one of the leaders of the separatist movement in Sicily. In one sense he was a romantic because his great desire was that Sicily should separate from the rest of Italy and become a state of the United States. This was never to happen because he was vilely murdered in his sleep on the 5th of July 1950 by his own cousin Gaspare Pisciotta under orders from the Palermo mafia dons.

If Salvatore Giuliano was a hero or a thief you can decide for yourselves. There are two movies about him. One is a Hollywood film called "The Sicilian" but a far better account is given in the Italian film "Salvatore Giuliano" by director Francesco Rosi. Here is a very neutral account of his doings and his life.
The Life and Times of the Sicilian Robin Hood: Bandit and Murderer, or Hero and Patriot? -- The Crime Library - Crime Library on truTV.com (http://tinyurl.com/4lro6a - broken link)

http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en-commons/thumb/b/be/220px-Salvatore_Giuliano.jpg (broken link)
Salvatore Giuliano, Turridu
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