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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 11:08 GMT
Funding for Italian migrant study
Old photograph of Antonizzi Bros
Italian migrants founded several cafes and restaurants in Wales
As Wales welcome Italy to Cardiff for rugby's Six Nations this weekend, a project focusing on an earlier Italian incursion has won a financial boost.

The scheme to record the life stories and memories of Italians who moved to Wales from the 1950s has been given a lottery grant of almost 50,000.

It will explore their reasons for moving to Wales, how they feel about it and their achievements along the way.

The information gathered will be turned into a travelling photo exhibition.

The educational branch of the Christian Association of Italian Workers (ACLI) will be running the project.

The exhibition is expected to tour Wales and England, stopping in venues like the St Fagans National History Museum and Newport Museum and Art Gallery.

The only thing I really missed about Italy in the first years was the weather
Domenico Casetta, Italian migrant

A series of talks and presentations about the project will be organised for groups of schoolchildren and both Italian and non-Italian organisations for them to learn more about the immigration and integration of Italians in Wales.

Educational packs will also be created to encourage local schools to carry out mini-versions of the project in their area.

Many Italians who moved to Wales 50 years ago worked in heavy industries including farming, mining and tin-plating as well as founding many of the cafes and restaurants.

Memories and photographs will be collected from 30 first-generation and 10 second-generation Italians from across south and north Wales.

A 49,500 grant has been provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund an oral history worker and to train volunteers in interviewing skills.

Italian migrants in a cafe in London
Italian migrants founded several cafes and restaurants in Wales

Lucia Bugitti of ACLI said the life histories were important to understand the roots of the Welsh Italian community and its cultural heritage.

"Telling their stories to their relatives and the wider community will help generate a greater debate and interest in this element of Welsh heritage both within the community and from outside," she said.

'Hidden stories'

One of the people who will be interviewed is 78-year-old Domenico Casetta, who left Turin at the age of 24 to join his parents in south Wales, where there was a shortage of men to work in the heavy industries.

"The only thing I really missed about Italy in the first years was the weather," he said.

"The countryside is similar, my family were here and it was easy to make friends especially in Wales: in fact, I married a Welsh girl.

"Both my wife and my three daughters speak Italian and although they are Welsh they have a passionate affiliation for Italy and we're a very close family, which of course is an Italian tradition!"

Heritage Lottery Fund manger for Wales Jennifer Stewart said: "This is an innovative project which will stir up a lot of emotions and memories and tell the hidden stories of many people who have contributed to the cultural and economic growth of Wales".

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