FOGGIA, Italy—On a November morning, Gianpaolo Romano found an unsigned letter under the glass entrance of his car showroom in this south Italian province known for its pristine beaches, vast tomato fields and, these days, a ruthless local mafia.
The message said he had to pay €250,000, equivalent to $286,000, to be safe. It didn’t say to whom he had to pay the pizzo, or protection money, but that he should find them himself. They knew his habits and where his family lived, the letter said. It was the first time he had received such a demand.