In Italy, it's generally assumed that almost everything is a little bit corrupt. This is a country, after all, where the former Prime Minister controlled much of the country's media and pushed through parliament multiple laws to protect himself from criminal prosecution; virtually nothing gets done without connections, small bribes, or simply ignoring the rules (which no one seems to follow anyway). It's also cynically assumed that there's a degree of truth in even the worst mutterings about the country's institutions, from its fabled soccer league (where the suggestion that referees help Juventus win was recently proven true by wiretaps) to its government.

Because of those circumstance, it surprised almost no one in the 1980s when the Mafia began to take over Palermo, Sicily. What was surprising, however, is that something was done about it: Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino led a virtually unprecedented crackdown, and as a result of the "Maxi Trials," hundreds of mafiosi, from foot soldier to general, were brought to justice and convicted; briefly, Palermo was reclaimed. In 1992, Falcone and Borsellino were spectacularly murdered by the mafia for their troubles; in the words of a weeping older magistrate, "E finito tutto" -- the fight was all over.