Benvenuto Italia

Italians arrived in Wales in the 19th century and brought with them a wonderful colourful culture of ice cream parlours, cafes, and fish and chip shops.

They brought colour and panache to a dark grey landscape for which we are forever grateful.

Between the wars they continued to arrive from all over Italy but mainly from Bardi a town in Emilia Romagna.

Bardi is a hilly town similar geographically to many welsh valley towns where the Italians made their new home, meteorologically though the similarities were non existent.

Frank and Aldo Berni opened a humble cafe in Merthyr before going on to establish the famous Berni Inn chain.

The link between the Italians and the Welsh is probably more visible in the capital than anywhere else in Wales, an Italian restaurant or coffee shop will come into view in almost every street and shopping centre in Cardiff.

The 2018 vintage arrived in smaller numbers this weekend, but soon found a home from home in the piazzas of the Welsh capital.

Yesterday on a mild sunny Mothering Sunday in Cardiff, the blue and the red mixed as old friends do, over an aperitivo and a plate of antipasti, before heading to the Principality Stadium for what they hoped would be a mouth watering primo and secondi.

Bread of Heaven was served up after just four minutes when Hadleigh Parkes went over for a try.

After six minutes George North scored a second and it looked like a feast was on the cards with Wales leading 14-0.

Just when it looked like Wales would run away with it, Italy clawed back a try after 10 minutes.

After the first course Wales led 17-7.

Their appetite recovered, the men in red added three more tries in the second half to Italy’s one, and Wales ran out comfortable winners 38-14.

As “Hymns and Arias” rang out after Wales fifth and final try the home fans appetite had been well and truly sated, and bread of heaven had indeed feed them until they want no more.

Wales now move up to second place in the Nat West Six Nations table and look forward to another gourmet event next Saturday when France come to town.

As the coffee shops and cafes of Cardiff closed their shutters there was time for one last espresso and a nod to a nation whose people have an indelible link with the land of our fathers.

Ciao Italia


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