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Memories of Tredegar Welsh Italians



These photos are by Gordon Hayward, a Cordani's family friend. They were donated by Mike Thomas for this website. a copy can also be found at the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum, Bute Street, Cardiff. 
I suppose the first inkling that part of me might "belong" somewhere else other than in Wales came with the realisation that a considerable number of people with vowels as the last letters of their surnames either owned businesses in Tredegar or visited the cafe where I lived on business: our coffee machines were supplied and serviced by a family by the name of Chiappa; our gaming machines came via the Savvi and Roffi families; our bread and cakes came from the Ferraris; our ice-creams on occasion from the Sidolis. I seem to remember it being repeated ad infinitum that at one time there were seven Italian cafes from one end of Tredegar to the other, but the only one I can recall these days, apart from our own, was the Rabaiotti family's Queen's Cafe. I do, however, remember families by the name of Cavanna, Moruzzi and Illari owning fish & chip shops in Tredegar. As another aside here, probably the most inventive spelling of my grandmother's surname I ever saw, from a regular customer, was Kadahni!!
Many of the people I mention, especially the older ones, seemed to remember my grandfather, many of them talking at length to me about him. Many also seemed to remember my grandfather's brother, Francesco (Frank), who apparently followed my grandfather over to Wales from Italy, and who for a time had a cafe in Sennybridge. What also seemed to dawn on me slowly, however, was the fact that although many of the older generation evidently seemed to speak Italian, if only amongst themselves, the second, third, etc generation Welsh Italians didn't seem to have the same capacity.

Mike Thomas, Ledbury