The third in a series of articles which recognises real-life Outlaw Heroes.
Salvatore Giuliano: the Sicilian Robin Hood
Usually compared to the legend of Robin Hood, Salvatore Giuliano (1922 – 1950) was a Sicilian peasant made famous due to stories which tell of him helping the poor villagers in his area by stealing from the rich.
The subjugated social status of his class led him to become a bandit and separatist who has been mythologized, not only during his life, but long after his death.
As a member of the Sicilian Independentist Movement, Giuliano actively worked towards gaining independence for the island from the Italian government.
His story began to attract attention in the world’s media, in no small part part due to his good looks, featuring in, amongst other publications, Time magazine.
He was born November 16th 1922 in the western Sicilian mountain village of Montelepre. “The Mountain of the Hare”.
He was the last of a long line of Sicilian mountain bandits and the last of the “Honourable” men.
The mountain bandits of Sicily at that time, had nothing to do with the mafiosos that inhabited the cities, being a breed unto themselves with their own code of honor and morals.
They were truly the allies of the poorer members of society and they gave freely anything they stole to those in need.
Even today you will find older people in the mountain villages around Palermo who still hold Giuliano in great esteem.
Salvatore went to school until he finished primary school, at which time he was required to go to work, but he didn’t stop studying and went to the local priest and the local school teacher to continue his studies on his own.
He was a very well read man, and was very cultured for a Sicilian “Campagnolo” and he used his knowledge to help people.
Giuliano’s, like many others, became a bandit out of necessity.
After his father’s death, his eldest brother provided wheat for Giuliano’s family, but he was called away to war.
So it was up to Salvatore, just twenty at the time, to provide the necessities for his family.
He was inexperienced in the method used in moving the wheat and 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 both his mule and the wheat.
They wanted to arrest and take him to the “American Garrison”.
The young Giuliano 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 happened to hear 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 Salvatore became the last mountain bandit of Sicily.
In his politics he was anti-communist, anti-Mafioso and became one of the leaders of the separatist movement in Sicily.
Unfortunately, he was murdered in his sleep on the 5th of July 1950 by his own cousin under direct orders from the Palermo Mafia.