When police broke into an ordinary-looking villa near Palermo to capture mob boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo on Nov. 6, the Cosa Nostra bigwig was trying to flush orders to henchmen, called pizzini, down the toilet.
What police found among his papers, strewn along with bags of dried pasta, was better than that: a modern-day etiquette guide for men of honor.
More than one Italian TV news report made fun of it, interspersing the rules with scenes of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” and comic Roberto Benigni in his send-up of the Mafia “Johnny Stecchino.” It does seem almost too stereotyped to be true.
Here’s part of what the typewritten, four-page photocopied guidebook said, in somewhat rickety Italian (translation mine):
1. No one can introduce himself directly to another one of our friends, an intermediary must do it.
2. Never look at the wives of our friends.
3. Never be seen with police.
4. Don’t frequent pubs and clubs.
5. It is your duty to always be available for Cosa Nostra – even if your wife is about to give birth.
6. Appointments must absolutely be kept.
7. Wives must be treated with respect.
8. When asked for information, the truth must be told.
9. Do not take money from other people or other families.
10. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone with a close relative in the police force, anyone with a traitor in the family, anyone with bad behavior who doesn’t adhere to moral values.