"The Mafia is a question every time
an Italian raises his head."
–Mario Cuomo, circa 1978
Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola have created a few of the most classic films of all times. One thing these movies have in common is the Italian mafia. Before the rise of the American mafia in the 1920’s, there was the Sicilian mafia. In fact many notorious American gangsters, such Al Capone, Frank Costello, Lucky Luciano and Carl Gambino all have Sicilian origins. Sicily was constantly invaded by foreigners. In order to protect themselves, the locals formed groups or clans which revolted against the ruling regime. The main aim of these groups was to drive out the invaders and regain their land, for example the Carbonari. They wanted a constitutional government and to drive out the Austrians. But due to the chaotic and unchanging situation in Sicily, many resorted to crime and extracted protection money from landowners. These crime organisations even assisted the new Italian government and the Church and in return for money and protection. This allowed the mafia to gain influence throughout Italy. They become experts in corrupting politicians, money laundering, taking part in illegal activities and seeking justice for those who could not. The rules and customs of the Sicilian mafia influenced the American mobsters, who were popular during prohibition till the 1980’s.