[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 21:46 GMT 22:46 UK
Italy's little slice of Scotland

There is a little corner of the Tuscan hills that is forever Scotland.

Walk along any of the narrow streets of the old town of Barga and you are likely to hear the echo of an accent that is 100% Glaswegian.

End up in conversation with anyone and they will tell you about their links to some town or other along the Scottish west coast.

Saltcoats, Ardrossan, Troon, Paisley, Glasgow, Largs and countless others have links with the Garfagnana region.

It all started with the mass emigration from the area at the end of the 19th century and again between the wars.

At one stage in the 1950s it was estimated that half the population of the town lived overseas while sending a slice of their pay packet home to help out the family.

The vast majority of these people made their living in Scotland.

Scottish invasion

Nowadays, it seems like the flow of people has reversed and it is Barga that is being invaded by "Scozzesi".

This summer alone there will be 15 Scottish weddings in the town.

In August it will stage its annual Fish and Chips Festival and also a Scottish Market.

Paisley singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini is expected to play a concert as part of the proceedings.

Scottish and Italian flags

The Scots Guards will also parade through the historic old town again this year.

Even the football ground - the Johnny Moscardini stadium - is named after the only Scottish-born player to be capped by the Azzurri.

"Many people from Barga live in Scotland, it is the history of our people, we went to Scotland for work," explained Mayor Umberto Sereni.

"Now we can see many people from Scotland in Barga.

"We are very proud to be the most Scottish town in Italy.

"Any Scotsman who comes to Barga should feel at home - like in a little Scotland."

One Scotsman who has settled in the area is the artist John Bellany, originally from Port Seton.

'Wonderful place'

"My dream was that I was the great-great-grandson of Giovanni Bellini - John Bellany - and this became a running joke," he explained.

Then, about 20 years ago, he came to Tuscany and eventually, in 2000, made his home in the little village of Fosciandora near Barga.

Mayor Umberto Sereni
Mayor Sereni is delighted to see so many Scots visit his town

"The way of life here is so like Scotland was all through my childhood," he said.

"Everybody cares about you here.

"It really is a wonderful place to live, it's full of optimism that's what I like.

"Here everybody gets on with everybody else, it really is an example to the rest of the world."

There can certainly be few places in the world where two countries sit more comfortably side by side.

You can wash down a fish supper with a little Montepulciano, read La Gazzetta dello Sport while bagpipes play or watch the Tricolore and Lion Rampant flutter together in the breeze.

Barga sent out its sons and daughters to Scotland to make their fortune - now it is Scotland's turn to enjoy the treasures Barga has to offer.

Medal honour for Scots Italians
25 Jul 06 |  South of Scotland
Scots Italians follow cup dream
08 Jul 06 |  Scotland
Italian role in Scotland honoured
03 Nov 04 |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific