Sicily plays a major role in a plethora of gangster stories, whether real or fictional; the initiated also know that it is the land of incredibly well preserved Greco-Roman sights and excellent food and wine. Fewer, however, are aware that the Italian island more recently gave birth to outstanding pharmaceutical entrepreneurs.

Indeed, not only are Sicilian executives at the head of many successful MNCs affiliates, headquartered in Milan or Roma, such as Maurizio Castorina of Takeda and Silvio Gherardi of Baxterbut, some also produced remarkable local success stories.

Amongst those is ophthalmology-focused SIFI, created by Antonino Benanti in 1936 and now led by his son Cavaliere Giuseppe Benanti whose own offspring–Salvino and Antonino–are sharing their time between SIFI and Ferlito, the two family businesses. In the words of Cavaliere Benanti, “Sicily offers many opportunities to investors willing to take advantage of its privileged geographic position and unique climate proper for agriculture and tourism.”

However, “it is not the same situation for pharmaceutical companies since it lacks proper infrastructure and is far away from the main markets.” Compatriot Fabio Scaccia of Finderm agrees. “Sicily seems to offer a challenging business environment, especially for small and medium- sized companies.”

But on a more positive notes he remarks that “this context also offers considerable opportunities for bigger players, and especially multinationals with the adequate strength and power to bet on the region and revitalize the Catania area. Indeed, Catania is home to highly skilled professionals and has all the potential to become the ‘pharmaceutical engine’ of Southern Italy.”