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Click the image for the story of this particular, now closed, italian cafe.

There is a program on iPlayer at the moment called “The Welsh Italians”. Essentially, back in the 1890 towards 1925, the first Italians made their way from Bardi, often on foot, to the South Wales Valleys. They opened chip shops, and cafes, the latter being the very hub of valleys life, acting as a meeting place and servicing the needs of the miners. There was one such cafe left even where I grew up, though sadly it closed in 2008.

These are people who maintained a sense of italian identity while blending in erectly well with the local welsh – no doubt in part due to ready acceptance (the welsh have historically been quite friendly in this way). Not to mention of course that they gave the local community what they wanted and needed.

These people are now the Welsh-Italian community – an ethnicity within wales. They still have annual family gatherings where welsh-italians gather as one big community, and while the Bracci’s are gone for the most part,we still have famous names like Ferrarri’s, Sidoli’s, and yes, even Costa. They form a MASSIVE part of the history of the welsh valleys which is so often sadly overlooked – but so overlooked, perhaps, largely because they were so well accepted as part of the community both then and now… excepting, of course, that they underwent the hardship of being declared as “enemy aliens” during World War 2, and STILL came back home to be accepted as part of the community in many cases. Alas, some simply never returned.

So, what’s the difference between then and now, apart from the decades that have passed and the supposed increasing prominence of liberal and accepting civilised values? Well, I guess there’s always the fact that the Italians were white. Food for thought?