T-SHIRTS have gone on sale in an Italian town where “everyone has friends or relatives in Wales” celebrating the link between the two countries. 

They have been produced by graphic designer Giacomo Cella and friend Giovanni Forlini (whose mother is from Ebbw Vale), who is selling them from his shop in Bardi. 

The town, in the northern province of Parma, is where many Italian families who emigrated to Wales in the late 19th and early 20th century originate from; and which earlier this month held its annual La Festa dell'Emigrante (the feast of the emigrant) – a celebration when those who emigrated, and their descendants, return to their homeland. 

“The idea was to celebrate the special connection that has existed between Bardi and Wales, we have a beautiful castle in Bardi, which fitted in well with the Welsh dragon, with Bardi having Wales in its heart, and vice versa,” said Mr Forlini of the shirts, which feature the Welsh dragon emblem alongside the castle of Bardi. 

“Almost everyone in Bardi has relatives or friends in Wales, so the connection is strongly felt.” 

South Wales Argus:

Earlier this month Bardi hosted La Festa dell’Emigrante for the first time since 2019, with music and dancing in the town square – and Mr Forlini said the T-shirts have proved popular. 

“I have been really surprised, and pleased with the response, and the T-shirt has been selling well with both the Italians and the Welsh," he said. 

“We have held La Festa dell'Emigrante on August 13 for the last 40 years. Bardi has a long history of immigration, with not only Wales, but England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and America.

"Although we are only about 1,500 residents, in the summer we become quite international."


The shopkeeper said the international influence on the small town means he is often told he speaks English with a Welsh accent. 

“I was born in Bardi, but my mother was born in Ebbw Vale, and my grandparents had a cafe in Church Street. She met my father when she came on holidays, so I have grown up with both cultures.  

South Wales Argus: Panoramic view of the Castle of Bardi. Picture: Filippo Aneli via Wikimedia under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0Panoramic view of the Castle of Bardi. Picture: Filippo Aneli via Wikimedia under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Mr Forlini added: “I've always spoken English with my mother, and my aunt and uncle, and cousins who live in Wales, but who I see frequently. It's quite funny, because sometimes in the shop, I'm asked how long I've lived in Bardi, because I speak English with, apparently, a Welsh accent, which I admit makes me very happy.” 

Bianca Ferrari, from Cardiff, is currently on holiday in Bardi, where her parents originate from. She visits there almost every year with her three children, and said she would bring back plenty of the T-shirts for the children of friends. 

“There's loads wearing them over here, and he has to order them in for adults and kids to his shop in Bardi as they're so popular,” she added.

This article originally appeared on our sister site The National.