Tributes paid to murdered Sicilian wine professional
The murder of Cantine Colomba Bianca marketing manager Marisa Leo by her ex-partner has sent shockwaves through the Italian wine industry.
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Leo, aged 39, was murdered on the night of 6/7 September near Marsala by her former partner Angelo Reina, who then shot himself. Leo had previously reported Reina, who was the father of her four-year-old daughter, to the police for stalking her in 2020.
Originally from Salemi in Trapani, Leo joined Cantine Colomba Bianca in 2016. Prior to this, she graduated with a degree in Economics and worked in marketing and PR outside of the wine world. She was involved with Le Donne del Vino, a group which supported women in the Italian wine industry. She also campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, being a founding member of the DxD: Calici di Vita project.
Cantine Colomba Bianca posted a tribute to Leo: “Marisa, you were and will be light…Woman of wine, caring and inspiring mother of our cellars. Mind and arm of successful choices, backbone of international projects for the Italian wine supply chain, visionary communicator in the world of vines made in Sicily. She was active against gender-based violence. It is inexplicable to imagine a new harvest without her. We are dismayed. We express our deep condolences for the loss suffered by Marisa’s family, of which we also feel an integral part.”
Assovini Sicilia president Mariangela Cambria wrote: “Assovini Sicilia, in remembering the courage and commitment of Marisa Leo in the fight against gender violence, condemns all forms of violence against women. For the battle against feminicide to be effective, more incisive actions are needed by the institutions, the judiciary, the police and a strong cultural awareness campaign regarding the problem. A safety net and a timely reaction by the law are needed to protect women who report any form of violence. As president, an entrepreneur and a woman, I will propose to the members of Assovini Sicilia a series of initiatives that will have the aim of giving help to the associations engaged on the front line on this front.”
Josè Rallo, Donnafugata CEO, added: “Marisa Leo was an extraordinary woman and mother, strongly involved in social work in support of women subjected to violence. Together with the national association, Le Donne del Vino, we intend to carry on the battle to raise awareness against this type of violence.”
A statement from Le Donne del Vino recounted the first time Leo spoke in public, at a women’s wine festival in Marsala in March 2019: “Shy, with large, dark eyes and that doe-like expression that hid an iron will, she armed herself with courage in front of the audience who were moved by her story. Those who were present remember the emotion of that young beautiful girl who finally openly declared her love for that nectar of Bacchus which had opened up new professional horizons into which she threw herself headlong, bonds of friendship. Never superficial. Our Marisa was not. She had learned to look inside herself, to become self-aware and to nourish the world around her with beauty.”
Italian wine communicator Laura Donadoni mourned Leo, and called for reflection on what can be done to prevent future acts of violence against women: “Let’s analyse our thoughts, our relationships, find the seeds of abusive and patriarchal culture and eradicate them one by one with patience. We can change our way of thinking, and that would already be a great start. We owe it to Marisa, to all the survivors and victims, but above all we owe it to ourselves.”
Leo’s funeral was held in Salemi on Wednesday 13 September.