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Scotland is immigrant choice for a new Italian connection

SCOTLAND is experiencing a new wave of Italian immigration as educated youngsters from the south-east of the country seek out work.

After almost a century-and- a-half of "chain migration" from two specific areas of Italy, prominent community figures say people from the impoverished Bari area are now seeing Scotland as a destination where even dish-washing is seen as an improvement on prospects.

According to some leading Scots-Italians, youths and young adults from the region, many of whom have little or no English, are taking up jobs in the hospitality sector and look set to become the "third" Italian community to make the country home.

In fact, anecdotal evidence is pointing to Italians and other southern Europeans now taking on the jobs carried out by Poles and other eastern Europeans over the past decade.

One Barese businessman compared it to the migration from southern Italy to the US in the early 1900s or the first wave who arrived in Scotland as itinerant workers in the 1880s.

Michele Pagliocca was one of the few people from Bari to try out Scotland several decades ago and after a working holiday in the early 1970s he now runs a successful stable of bars and venues.

He said: "What we have now are youngsters, educated youngsters, giving Scotland a try. So bad are things in southern Italy they're prepared to wash dishes for the financial independence it brings.

"They don't have the network like those who came from Tuscany in the past have had, but for people back home it seems like Glasgow is getting a reputation and they're coming here. Many don't stay very long.

"Traditionally, the Barese have migrated to the east and west coast of the US. They've got into catering and try to offer their children a different upbringing. That's happening now in Scotland. People with degrees are cleaning kitchens. But many love it here. To them it has a touch of the exotic."

Waves of Italian immigrants have been arriving in Scotland since the late 19th century.

Unification of the country in 1861, intense poverty and two world wars saw millions of Italians leave their native land, with tens of thousands of their descendants now dotted across Scotland and influencing almost every walk of Scottish life.

Unlike many other communities, the Italians soon diffused across the whole of Scotland rather than focus on any particular area. Much of this was to do with the need to accommodate expanding families and new arrivals from Italy.

Traditionally, migration to Scotland from Italy has been predominantly from two areas, Barga in Tuscany and Valle di Comino in Lazio.

Prominent individuals such as Armando Iannucci, Tom Conti, Peter Capaldi, Paul Di Resta, Dario Franchitti and Paolo Nutini can all trace their roots back to these places.

The pattern of migration has usually taken people heading to Scotland to a support network of friends and family, with work already secured.

However, the lack of any ­significant "Barese" community here means young Italians fleeing the economic crisis at home are arriving cold to Scotland.

Domenico Lillo is one of the Barese success stories in Scotland. He has recently celebrated the first anniversary of his own restaurant, Casa Italia, which he opened in Clydebank in late 2012, 15 years after arriving in Scotland. But he warns those escaping the crisis in southern Italy to think carefully before making the trip to Scotland.

He said: "Definitely there are lots more coming over. They see this place as having opportunity - and how successful that is depends on their mindset. Some just can't handle the weather.

"But I would urge them to think long and hard about coming here. There isn't really a large or strong Barese community and the economy here is pretty bad too."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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