Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli has traveled extensively for reporting assignments. These include going to Norway to cover the aftermath of the brutal attacks by a right-wing extremist; to Greece, Spain, and Portugal reporting on the eurozone crisis; and the Balkans where the last wanted war criminals have been arrested.

In addition, Poggioli has traveled to France, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark to produce in-depth reports on immigration, racism, Islam, and the rise of the right in Europe.

She has also travelled with Pope Francis on several of his foreign trips, including visits to Cuba, the United States, Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

Throughout her career Poggioli has been recognized for her work with distinctions including the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, the Welles Hangen Award for Distinguished Journalism, a George Foster Peabody, National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Awards, the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize, and the Silver Angel Excellence in the Media Award. Poggioli was part of the NPR team that won the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of the war in Kosovo. In 2009, she received the Maria Grazia Cutulli Award for foreign reporting.

In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston together with Barack Obama.

Prior to this honor, Poggioli was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences "for her distinctive, cultivated and authoritative reports on 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia." In 1990, Poggioli spent an academic year at Harvard University as a research fellow at Harvard University's Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

From 1971 to 1986, Poggioli served as an editor on the English-language desk for the Ansa News Agency in Italy. She worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

The daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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In Italy, Giuseppe Conte has resigned as prime minister of a coalition government after only about 14 months in power. His resignation throws Italy into a state of political uncertainty. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is on the line from Italy. Hi, Sylvia.

The Italian region of Tuscany is not known just for its fine wines, extra-virgin olive oil and Renaissance masterpieces. It's also the birthplace of the Italian Communist Party, which was founded in 1921 and has been a bastion of left-wing governance for decades.

But in the past three years, Tuscany has experienced political upheaval as the hard-right, anti-immigrant League party has won elections in many towns, marking the first losses for the left in Tuscany in more than seven decades.

Rome is known as the Eternal City. Over many centuries, it has been sacked by marauders and repeatedly resurrected from decline. But this summer, Roman residents are being tested by a massive trash crisis that has prompted doctors to warn of the possible spread of diseases as birds, vermin and wild animals scavenge amid the rotting refuse.

Already, flocks of cawing seagulls have replaced traffic roar as the soundtrack of Roman life.

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To Italy now, where, over the last two weeks, a showdown has played out - on one side, a young female ship captain who rescues migrants seeking refuge in Europe; on the other, Italy's hard-right, anti-immigration interior minister.

Some 400 million people in 28 countries are eligible to vote in this week's elections for new representatives for the European Parliament — the only popularly elected European Union institution. It's normally a low-turnout affair, but this year, the Europe-wide result will be a crucial test of strength for nationalist and populist parties that want to remake the EU — and for those who oppose them.

Ahead of elections this week for a new European Parliament, 11 populist leaders rallied last Saturday in Milan's Piazza Duomo. They vowed to reassert their national sovereignty by wresting control from European Union bureaucrats headquartered in Brussels. Their host: Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's far-right League party and Europe's rising populist star.

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Appeals judges of the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have upheld Radovan Karadzic's conviction for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre that claimed the lives of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

They also ruled that the 40-year sentence of Karadzic handed down in the first trial, in 2016, was too light given the gravity of the crimes.

Along with the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian army general Ratko Mladic, Karadzic was a key figure in the Bosnian war.

In February, Pope Francis acknowledged a longstanding dirty secret in the Roman Catholic Church — the sexual abuse of nuns by priests.

It's an issue that had long been kept under wraps, but in the #MeToo era, a #NunsToo movement has emerged, and now sexual abuse is more widely discussed.

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Pope Francis ended a historic trip to the United Arab Emirates with a papal mass, the first ever in the Arabian Peninsula.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

Every Sunday at noon, Pope Francis concludes his greeting to the crowd in St. Peter's Square by wishing them a good Sunday meal.

But the warm cheers for the pope from the crowd in the square contrast with strident commentary that can be heard outside Vatican walls.

In America, some politically conservative Catholics have long criticized Pope Francis for being pro-migrants, anti-capitalist and less rigid on doctrine than his two predecessors.

As clerical sex abuse scandals buffet the Catholic Church, a three-week assembly of bishops is under way in Rome on how to make the Church relevant for young people. But the assembly, known as a synod, will likely be dominated by what many analysts call Catholicism's worst crisis since the reformation.

Roughly 250 priests, bishops, cardinals and some younger laypersons are participating in the synod.

In the opening mass, pope Francis urged them "to dream and to hope."

For centuries, the words "Vatican" and "intrigue" have gone hand in hand. But the Holy See's centuries-old code of secrecy ensured that scandals and conspiracies usually remained hidden behind the tall and sturdy Renaissance walls of the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, unbeknownst to the faithful masses around the world.

Now, in the era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, mudslinging between rival church factions is being waged out in the open.

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The official purpose of Pope Francis' visit to Ireland this weekend is to attend the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families held every three years.

But with multiple sexual abuse scandals buffeting the Catholic Church across the world, the two-day visit may turn out to be one of the most consequential trips of this papacy. The pope is under intense pressure to enact concrete measures to ensure accountability for church officials who ignored or covered up cases of clerical sex abuse.

After two days of silence and a barrage of criticism for failing to address the latest clergy sex abuse scandal in the United States, Pope Francis has spoken.

"The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors," said a statement issued by the Vatican on Thursday.

"Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke wrote.

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European Union leaders wrangled over migration policy reforms in an all-night meeting in Brussels. And one of the bloc's newest and loudest critics, the barely month-old government of Italy, is claiming a big win.

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Italy is on the verge of a constitutional crisis after anti-establishment party leader Luigi Di Maio called for the impeachment of President Sergio Mattarella.

An angry Di Maio, of the 5-Star Movement, made the unprecedented demand after Mattarella rejected a euroskeptic for the key post of economy minister — virtually foiling a bid to form Europe's first fully populist government.

One of Rome's must-see sights is the Vatican's Sistine Chapel — but it's usually so packed, visitors have a hard time absorbing the majesty and beauty of the frescoes painted by Michelangelo.

Now there's a new spectacle in town, where visitors can sit comfortably in plush theater seats and feast their eyes on every detail of the Sistine's masterpieces.

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