An Italian hairdresser who came to Bedford in 1958, aged just 18, now wants to make people from the town welcome in his homeland more than half a century later.
Giorgio Garofalo is setting up a project to take people from Bedford back in time to the unspoilt mountainous region of Molise.
He said: “My inclination is to build bridges.
“I would like to make people feel at home over there like I have been made to feel at home here.”
His family are currently renovating a hotel in Vasto, which is expected to be ready later this year, and guests will be able to sponsor their own olive tree for just £20 per year from the family field. They will be able to visit, pick their own olives and then create extra virgin olive oil.
Wine making takes place in the region around September time, while olives are picked and transformed into oil during October and November.
Giorgio, 74, who lives in Clapham, said: “There is so much to see there and so much to do. We have the weather, we have the scenery, we have healthy food and a healthy environment. It can only be good. There is so much potential and so much scope.”
His family, including nieces Mary and Antonietta, who also run a language school and travel agency business, are currently setting up a plan for trips to the region and would like to hear from interested parties.
“We are interested in what people would like to do during their trip,” said Giorgio, who took a step back from his Bedford hairdressing business a year ago when Lucinda Gill took over the running of The Lounge in St Mary’s Street.
“We are not trying to sell anything but we just want to make people realise what is available there,” he added and said that the trips should be affordable to everyone.
The region in Southern Italy has remained unspoilt, probably due to its geographical position which means it consists mainly of mountains and valleys.
The rural area is made up of villages perched on the top of high peaks including Giorgio’s birthplace of Petrella Tifernina. Houses here are built of stones, quarried locally and most are more than 500 years old.
To find out more about the project contact Giorgio on 07831 846 846.