Frontline World

Sicily - A Bridge Too Far? , April 2004
a FRONTLINE/World Fellows project
Anna Giordano
Aurelio
The Strait
Homecoming
Arancine
Il Postino
Nino Calarco
Anna Giordano
No Dolce Vita
Jamiolkowski
Anna Giordano just may be the angriest tour guide I've ever met. A leader of Sicily's World Wildlife Fund and a member of the anti-bridge coalition, she was the first person I met at the big gathering in December. It was then that she offered to take me on a tour of Messina and its nearby towns -- places she says will be destroyed if the bridge is built.

Anna Giordano with map

Anna Giordano of the World Wildlife Fund says the bridge could interfere with migratory patterns of birds, fish and marine mammals. She calls the project "a dream for some, but a nightmare for all."
Giordano is furious that Messina bridge plans have gone this far. She thinks the environmental impact report, which was approved last year, glossed over countless environmental disasters the bridge would bring. She believes it could destroy the migratory patterns of birds, marine mammals and fish. She told me that the years of construction -- the plans call for the bridge to be fully operational by 2012 -- would destroy the coastline and fill the strait and nearby lakes with chemicals and dredge. The ensuing car pollution and traffic, she said, would only add insult to injury.

Giordano believes the bridge company ignored all of these concerns in its environmental studies, then used Berlusconi supporters in the Italian parliament to put bridge approval on the fast track. She hopes her group's lawyers can prove in court that Stretto di Messina's plans are illegal because of environmental concerns and because residents in the cities most affected by the bridge were never allowed to vote on project plans. (The coalition filed its argument in January.)

Boater on lake

Giordano took me on a tour of Faro and Ganzirri lakes, both of which she says would be damaged if the Messina bridge is built.
Giordano seems optimistic about her fight against the "monster" bridge, but she's also deeply skeptical about the legal process in her country.

"There is no law here," she said, as we drove past an illegal trash dump in the hills above Messina. "When you try to make people follow the law, you're the one who is punished."

Just then we drove past several illegally dumped cars left on a gorgeous hill overlooking the strait. Giordano launched into a furious string of curses in Italian. She added, "You see, the people here do whatever they want. Nobody stops them."

Giordano's determination has at times made her an unpopular woman. When she tried to stop a group of bird poachers believed to have Mafia ties, her car was set on fire.

"They wanted to show they can do anything they want to me," she said.

Not long after our interview, Giordano moved back to Messina, her hometown, so she can fight the bridge and other "illegal construction projects" full time.

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