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(Issue 337, December 2006)

The new season of winter meetings of the Historical Society got off to a fine start and a very full hall to hear Joseph Giacopazzi talk about Italian migration to Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries, with particular reference to his own family.

Mr Giacopazzi gave us an excellent background to the history of Italy and highlighted the tiny village of St Vincenzo, some 2000 feet up in the Appennine mountains, isolated and inhospitable, from which his forefathers came.

From 1820, Italian migrants had walked to Paris and on to London in search of more income. Often they were street vendors with hand carts, selling ice cream in summer and roast chestnuts in winter.

Mr Giacopazzi's grandfather, Guiseppe, took the train to Scotland when a youth of 18 but went back to Italy in 1904, aged 23, returning to Scotland with his bride, Livia, 17. It was interesting to hear that there were 340 Italian ice cream shops in Glasgow alone and many others in other parts of Scotland. There were no fridges or freezers in those days and the ice cream was made by collecting ice from the local Lomond hills and storing it in wooden bunkers. Guiseppe went back to Italy to fight in WW1 while Grandmother Livia kept alive the business in Scotland. He was demobbed in 1918 and returned to Scotland, buying his shop in Milnathort for 400. Guiseppe and Livia had two sons, Trentino and Eduardo, Trentino being Joseph Giacopazzi's father.

At the beginning of WW2 Trentino was imprisoned in Perth and Edinburgh as an "enemy alien" with hundreds of other Italians. He had a passion for flying and after much trouble he persuaded the RAF that he was indeed a loyal Scot and the RAF let him fight for Britain. Trentino's mother ran the shop while he was away.

Joseph Giacopazzi has carried on the family business in Milnathort and this year, 102 years after Joseph's great grandparents were married, Joseph's son Peter was married in the same village of St Vincenzo in Italy.

Mrs Mary Muirhead thanked the speaker for a lively and very interesting talk.

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