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"Who says there is no fire from Heaven in Sicily?"
―Salvatore Giuliano[src]

Salvatore "Turridu" Giuliano, Jr. was a Sicilian bandit who has been been mythologised during his life and after his death.


Salvatore Giuliano.

Giuliano was born in Montelepre, a rural village in western Sicily, as the fourth and youngest child of Salvatore Giuliano, Sr. and Maria Lombardo. His parents were landed peasants who had spent some of their earlier lives in the United States where they had earned the money to buy their farmland.[1]

The legend grows

Giuliano robs the military train.

Giuliano rose to prominence in the disorder which followed the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. In September of that year, Giuliano became an outlaw after shooting and killing a police officer who tried to arrest him for black-market food smuggling when 70% of Sicily's food supply was provided by the black market. He maintained a band of subordinates, including his "cousin" and lieutenant Gaspare Pisciotta, and two local bandit chieftains, Terranova and Passatempo, who he rescued from the Bellampo barracks. Shortly after this, they robbed a military train and Giuliano gave his cut to the people.[1]

The widespread international press coverage he attracted made him an embarrassment to the Italian government, and throughout his banditry a large police force was deployed against him. At this time, he married Justina Ferra, a young peasant girl.[1] (in The Sicilian film she is named Giovanna Ferra)

Escape and death

Michael Corleone was assigned by his father, Don Vito, to bring Giuliano with him to the United States. However, Giuliano was killed in 1950 by the hand of his lieutenant, Gaspare Pisciotta, after he was persuaded by Don Croce Malo. His corpse was then laid on the street in a nearby village and sprayed with bullets to make it seem like he was killed by the military.[1]

Giuliano is commonly compared to the legend of Robin Hood, due to stories pertaining to him helping the poor villagers in his area by taking from the rich.

Behind the scenes

Salvatore Giuliano is the main character in the novel The Sicilian. In the film adaptation he is played by Christopher Lambert.


  • In The Sicilian, Giuliano is killed by Gaspare Pisciotta. That is also the widely accepted real life account of the facts surrounding Salvatore Giuliano's death; there is, however, a theory that he successfully made his escape to America. Proponents of this theory cite the hasty burial, concluding from this and the barely recognizable body that somebody else was buried in Giuliano's stead.
  • These and other conspiracy theories about a coverup surrounding Giuliano's death ultimately resulted in an decision in 2010 by the Public Prosecutor's office in Palermo to seek exhumation of Giuliano's remains in order to compare the DNA to his surviving relatives. The DNA tests showed a 90% likelihood that the body belonged to Giuliano. Due to this, Sicilian prosecutors archived the probe they opened in 2010 into the possibility that someone was murdered and passed off as Giuliano.[2]
  • In the novel, Giuliano's name is written slightly different as Guiliano.[1] Whether this was mistakenly or intentionally done by Mario Puzo is unknown.
  • Giuliano also inspired the acclaimed Italian film Salvatore Giuliano, directed by Francesco Rosi in 1961, and an opera by Lorenzo Ferrero, first performed in 1986.



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