La Scozia — Scottish Italians in 1908

La Scozia was an Italian language newspaper for Scottish Italian immigrants. It was weekly and ran for about 48 issues or so in 1908 (some weeks were skipped, some weeks had a double-issue covering 2 weeks). It described itself as “A weekly organ for the interests of the Italian colony”. More information about it can be found here in Giancarlo Rinaldi’s excellent overview at BBC Scotland. Thanks to Giancarlo’s prodding I dug out some old clippings of my own of La Scozia from a trip to the British Library I made quite some time ago when I was doing some family research.


Issue 1

Front page of issue No 1 from 17th Jan 1908:

Issue 1 of La Scozia Jan 17th 1908

Issue 1 of La Scozia Jan 17th 1908


This letter from a female correspondent (printed in issue 2 or 3 I think) is one of the rare occasions in which the English language was used in La Scozia. It’s a hint of the slight wariness that existed between the Scottish and Italians in the early days:

Letter from a Scotswoman

Letter from a Scotswoman


Learning English

La Scozia ran an occasional English tuition column. This one shows how food is always front and centre of the Italian psyche:

An English lesson in La Scozia

An English lesson in La Scozia


This advert shows an example of some of the great typefaces of yore. Anyone considering opening a new gelateria should take a look at this incredible lettering:

An advert for Leopoldo Giuliani

An advert for Leopoldo Giuliani


Giosuè Carducci was an Italian poet an nobel-prize winner. Issue no 7 of La Scozia paid tribute to him after he died (quite some time before according to Wikipedia — early 1907). La Scozia commissioned a rather florid essay by a Francis Graham (who is this scholar, does anyone know?) who described Carducci as a “champion of freedom”. The fact that this essay was printed in full and in English indicates the editor really wanted as many people as possible to know about the great man:

Tribute to the poet Carducci

Tribute to the poet Carducci



































The Mafia

This article warns Italians away from members of the “Mano Nera” (Black Hand). This was a crude precursor to the Mafia and seems to have been more prevalent in the US than in the UK. Basically they came up to you and asked for money, if you refused they would burn down your business or beat you up. This brief summary article talks of how the Black Hand “does dishonour to Italy” and recounts the rather entertaining tale of a Black Hand member who tried to plant a bomb in Pittsurgh but was apprehended by a dog.

Stay away from the Mano Nera

Stay away from the Mano Nera





This second article from another edition is not so funny. It describes a brutal murder in New York where someone’s tongue was cut out. The author seems sure the murderer was “Marchionno from Palermo” and goes on to speculate that this same man was involved in the notorious but forgotten “Notarbartolo” case — the 1894 Mafia slaying of Emanuele Notarbartolo, the president of the Bank of Sicily.


Keep your mouth shut











In Giro . . .  In and around Scotland

This is an example of the ‘In Giro…’ column described by Giancarlo Rinaldi at the link at the top. It mentions the special ice-creams in Motherwell of a Mr Verecchia and a C. Coletti. This was Cesidio, the brother of my great-grandfather (also a confectioner):













This lengthy column head outlines “All aspects of the problem of emigration” from the point of view of the newly-arrived immigrant to Scotland. It seems some “Central Committee” had come up with a report on the topic (unsure what this body actually was) and wanted to “regulate, restrain and direct the immigrant flow”. The column goes on to mention “the very sensitive effects” immigration can have on “the demographic structure of the Kingdom.” La Scozia — primarily through its editor Filipo Cafaro — was always keen to urge integration.

It seems the great and the good of the Italians at the time were involved in putting this report together including a Mr Forte — possibly Charles, later Baron Forte. The article goes on to estimate the total number of Italians in Scotland at that time as being 8,000 and that their professions could be split into 4: confectioners/gelatieri, restauranteurs, barbers and mosaic workers. It also mentions that “emigration to Scotland is not advisable” as there is no guarantee of work. Also of interest is the call for the local consulate and officials to exert on new immigrants “a certain moral and material protection”. 






































An expensive snifter

This brief report describes how a Mr Marsella was fined for drinking whisky after midnight. Harsh.

Nip after midnight

Nip after midnight









Rediscovered track of the month: Oct ’14

Texas, I Don’t Want a Lover
Read more

The Double Negative of the independence referendum


UPDATE: Just over 24 hours until polls close I’m laying my cards on the table, Scotland will reject independence with the following result: YES: 43.4%    NO: 56.6%    turnout 87.2%

My rationale for the above . . . the timidity of the NO voters …nobody wants to be seen to be ‘unpatriotic’ in front of friends and family…so people tend to tell pollsters they’re YES when in fact they’re NO. This is based on my own experience of talking to friends and family in Scotland. The YES vote has been obviously noisier and on occasion’s already inherently more of a strain to say you’re against something than to say you’re for something, doing so in the face of pretty forceful opposition tends to quieten the ardour even  further…the love for NO will flourish inside the privacy of a polling booth. A well-known World Service presenter put it well, the NO voters are like Tory voters in England…they tend to keep quiet but there’s an awful lot of ’em about.




It’s the final day I cannot ignore all the talk during the Independence Referendum campaign on the negativity of the NO campaign, but if you really delve down you’ll find both sides equally up on the down aspect so to speak.


Irvine Welsh sums up the NO campaign well with this . . .




He has a point. The NO campaign decided early on to go for the cold, hard facts of the economic disadvantages that would befall an independent Scotland. As a Peterhead fisherman yesterday on the World Service’s Business Daily pithily said, “We’d be like Greece, but without the sunshine”. That’s not to say Scotland could not support itself…it could, but with one hand tied behind its back Greek style it would be missing out on the juicy cut of the Barnett formula which is to say Scotland accounts for about 8.3% of the UK population but receives about 9.2% of the public spending. If the Barnett formula were a cow, Scotland gets the filet mignon. Yes, yes I know there’s oil to be factored in to that equation post any YES vote, and yes if Scotland had total control of the North Sea revenues that would be a massive boost, but would you found a nation’s prosperity on an inherently dwindling resource?

All the same I like my campaigns top be a bit more positive. The Better Together campaign should have been the guy at the party who, when things are flagging at 2am, urges everyone on down the road to a pumping secret rave …. maybe Spud style “wi a wee dab ae speed” to get things really cooking.


The negativity of the YES campaign is best summed up by another Welsh quote, this time from Trainspotting . . .

— It’s aw a loaday shite anyway, Sick Boy meekly counters, using one of this classic tactics. If you can’t win the fine detail of an argument, then rubbish its context*

 (*eagle-eyed readers will know this is one of my favourite quotes, and yes it can be twisted to any topic, any time …however, it is particularly apt here)

The absence of Nationalism in the debate has been noted by myself already, both sides in this battle would probably concede that people voting for independence are not doing so out of a strong sense of Scottish pride rather the refrain from Salmond and others in the SNP has been a constant and I think quite effective: save Scotland from “a government we didn’t elect”. . . “out of touch Westminster elites”…as if London were some far-away el Dorado; its streets paved with the skins of Jarrow marchers on which Tory toffs prance daily. People are voting YES for very similar reasons to those who voted for UKIP back in the May European elections –they want to stick one in the eye of the ruling establishment. It wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference had Labour or the Lib Dems been in power right now the rhetoric would have been the same (witness Ed Milliband’s ugly heckling yesterday in Edinburgh).

And who can blame them? Back during the height of the ecomomic crisis in 2008/2009 a good friend wondered aloud what “all this” was doing to society? What he meant by ‘all this’ was a political and financial elite who placed giant bets on red and when it came up black they kept their Maseratis while we, the taxpayers, bailed them out. What we saw in May and what we’re seeing as part of the YES campaign is a continuation of this subtle form of class warfare. When the likes of David Nish of Standard Life speak ominously about how “operations” might have to move south in the event of a YES vote they are to all intents and purposes speaking to a blank wall, the people they’re trying to convince think they — the financiers — should be in jail not on a soapbox pontificating about Scotland’s future. I have some sympathy for this view — the gamblers who created the 2008 shock waves have, almost to a man, kept their positions and wealth without penalty. However, the solution to a system you don’t like is not simply and petulantly to do away with that system. The YES campaign are like those kids at school who when the footy wasn’t going their way would march off with the ball and one of the jumpers you were using for goalposts. We’d often find these moody moochers on another patch of green across town an hour or so later playing with another bunch and sure enough, when the game again started to slip away, they were off …harrumphing back to their maws. Voting YES because you hate Tories is a pretty shaky foundation on which to found a nation.









The Heartlessness of ‘Scotland’s Future’

A flurry of coverage yesterday of the SNP’s “Scotland’s Future” document . . . one thing stood out for me: the sheer, cold hard-headedness of it all. Read more

The First Signs the Scottish Referendum Campaign is Getting Weird

News via the Spectator reaches me of an unlikely speech by the Respect MP George Galloway at a Glasgow town hall meeting entitled ‘Just Say Naw’.

When hard left Scottish MPs representing northern-English towns and David Cameron find themselves on the same side of any argument it’s pause for thought. On a topic as emotional as Scotland’s independence it’s a sign that things in the coming referendum campaign can and will get a little bizarre.

If I understand the points made by Alex Massie then it seems George thinks his message of class warfare would be diminished by the UK splitting into two. I’m not sure I agree: two echo chambers for the Gallowayian style of debate sounds to me like it would add up to more than double the amplification he attains now: kind of like shouting into a coastal blow-hole with a megaphone using AC/DC’s sound system.

Look out for more odd-shaped bedfellows in the coming months especially once the SNP release their white paper on independence. And weirdness on-screen too . . . will Newsnight host a debate with a Yes team of Sean Connery, a hologram of Hugh McDiarmid and whoever happens right now to be claiming to be Robert the Bruce’s descendant? Maybe have Russell Brand on too for good measure. For now though, David Cameron will look on this with a wry smile but come a post-referendum defeat for Unionism then look to see the Galloways of the world turn their ire on the Tories with even more spite than usual as they seek scapegoats for a splt.



Stob Ghabhar by Moonlight

At 3500 ft Stob Ghabhar commands respect in summer so a winter walk is definitely not  something undertaken lightly but in February 2012 there was a sort of weather ‘Quickening’ where a confluence of certain elements produced a window of about 24 – 48 hours of almost perfect conditions for a climb.

The photos below were taken by Scotland’s second-best landscape snapper and Colin Prior-worrier Andy Fair. They’re in sequence starting with the river shot just near the car park around midday which is late to be taking on a Munro but we wanted to hit the summit at around 4:30 pm to catch the moonrise over Rannoch Moor at around 5:05 pm (Andy lugged his heavy panoramic lens to capture that view). Temperatures were good to us: midday at ground level was an almost balmy 6 deg C, on the summit Andy reckoned on an ambient of 0 deg C with the wind chilling it down to -10  (we didn’t stay long) . . . upon return to the car at 8pm it was -2 deg C.

The descent was as good as daylight on the snowy upper third (snow+ moonlight in these stunning conditions = as good as daylight) and required some headlamp work on the grassy lower sections just to get us back onto the path by the waterfall. From there it was moonlight back to the car. To be sure, descending any hill esp. Stob Ghabhar in the dark is not advised but like I said, if you’re going to do a moonlit summit then this February was the time to do it. The irons were hot so we grabbed them . . .

View north west


Quite a few red deer around. Note salt lick at bottom -- he was tucking into it big time


View from mid-way south east ish. Warm.


Ptarmigan x 2. Are they good eatin'?


Ridge up to summit. Sun is just setting.


Tea time

Moonrise in the east over Rannoch Moor -- about 5 mins after sun set