Why is it that we have so many English/Welsh people in Bedonia? What is it that makes them want to live here – or come back from the countries to which they or their forefathers had emigrated? Good question, to which everyone has their own personal answer.
After having told the story of the Molinari family, who run the Hotel San Marco (see June article), we decided to put the same query to the girls running Bar Lucia, a very popular meeting place for townspeople, situated in the historical centre of Bedonia. And funnily enough (well, not really, to be honest!) we discovered that their vicissitudes ran very much along the same lines as those of the Molinaris.
But let’s start at the beginning. Silvia and Nello Lusardi married on the 30th of January 1963. The very next day, they left Santa Maria del Taro (a small town about 30 minutes from Bedonia), headed towards north England. Nello’s sister Delmina and her family had previously settled down at Newton-Le-Willows in Merseyside, and were running an ice cream business over there. Silvia and Nello became part of the workforce, doing rounds with their 4 ice cream vans all around the area.
It’s worth spending a few words on the popularity of these vans, back in the day. They still exist, of course, but nowadays, kids don’t get quite as excited as they did 50 years ago, maybe because they didn’t get so many treats back then! When they’d hear the typical chimes in the distance, they would pour out of their homes, jumping up and down with sheer pleasure for the big event of the day – or more probably week! The vans have their personal comical name; the Lusardi family had the honor of bringing MR CURLYTOP amongst the people!!!
In those first years, the family grew; first Giuliano was born, then Romina, Tiziana, and last but not least – Susan (Susy to everyone), ten years after her brother. Time flew by, all of them did their schooling in England, Giuliano finished and began to collaborate in the business, while his three sisters would help out after school, doing their rounds with a driver, since they were young. Susy admits that she sometimes felt embarassed dishing out ice cream in front of her friends, who would often make fun of her. Kids can be so mean!
Then came a turn of events, one which was about to change their lives for the next 30 years. Unfortunately, Silvia’s father fell ill, so in 1988, his daughter considered it her duty to come back to Italy in order to look after him. It was supposed to be a temporary situation, until grandpa got back on his feet again. But things didn’t quite go as planned; grandpa’s condition worsened, and Silvia was unable to abandon him for the next three years. The rest of the family travelled to and fro during this time, but Nello felt that it wasn’t right for them to be separated that way. He wanted to find a solution.
And find it he did; he had heard that one of the most central cafés of Bedonia was up for sale, and he decided to pop the question to his family – would they all be willing to leave England and the life they had led up until that moment, in order to emigrate to Italy and take over this café? The answer to that was – YES! They were all for it! The only one who had qualms about the big move was Giuliano, the eldest of them all, who at that point was 25, and was more attached to his friends and his way of life than his sisters were. But in the end, faced with the enthusiasm of his siblings, he also complied.
Initially, Romina and Tiziana came over; there were courses to attend in Parma, necessary for the applications of the permits and licence. They worked alongside the previous owners for eight months, gaining experience in this totally new field of work, and generally getting the hang of things. During this period, Nello was travelling regularly back and forth between England and Italy, Susy was finishing up secondary school, and still doing her rounds in the evenings, whilst Giuliano was working full time in the business, both watched over, in the absence of their parents, by aunt Delmina. In 1990 the big moment arrived, when Nello went to England, packed up everything still remaining in the house (which was later rented out), and finally drove to Italy with Susy and Giuliano. The family was reunited at last! For the time being, they lived in aunt Delmina’s house, in the centre of Bedonia, but shortly afterwards, Nello began construction on that which would become the family’s new home, in Via Monte Penna.
The Lusardis officially began running the café in November of that year, and decided to keep the name that it was widely known by – Bar Lucia (Lucia was the daughter of the previous owners). They were immediately presented with a series of challenges; their Italian was not quite up to snuff at that point, so comunication was difficult, the hours were long and exhausting, and there was still so much to learn. But with the help of Nello and Silvia in the initial phase, things soon began to tick over very nicely. So nicely, in fact, that Bar Lucia is currently one of the most popular cafés in Bedonia, thanks to the smiling, professional service of all the ladies and their assistants (Giuliano eventually took another path).
The family had been intending to celebrate their first 30 years of activity in 2020 – but unfortunately the coronavirus decided otherwise……but the idea has simply been set aside for the moment, in the hope that next year it will be possible to go through with the original plans – 30+1!
Fingers and toes crossed, not only for Bar Lucia, BUT FOR ALL OF US!!!