If Barga, a more than attractive, small hill-side town in Tuscany, might in Gurro have a competitor as the the most Scottish in Italy, there can be no doubt of its credentials as the country's seat of Scots, i.e. Italian-Scots football, and more. The proof begins on arrival. As the bus from Mologno station in the valley below draws in, to the right is the gate to the Old Town and the left the bar with a banner that declares it as the home of the community's Celtic Supporters' Club. It is a cultural connection that might easily go back as long as the Glasgow club itself, the first Bargesi had arrived on the Clyde by the 1880s, but there is far more direct tie between the Scottish and local games, between fitba' and calcio, itself now a century old.
Venturing onward across the bridge that separates Old from New in the lower part of Barga New Town there is the football stadium. It is a simple affair even for a small citta but with a name, Stadio Johnny Moscardini, that is both usual and unusual. In Barga there are many Moscardinis. It is a common, local family-name. But as a Christian-name Johnny is unexpected in the way Giovanni or Gianni would not be. Yet Johnny Moscardini is Barga's greatest football export, albeit as greatest export ever he might recently have been superseded and from Scotland once more. Having played the 1918-19 season locally he then turned out for five more for Luccese of Lucca, one for Pisa, simultaneously nine times for Italy with an impressive seven-goals, and almost for Genoa. But he would seemingly end his playing days with Campbeltown Grammar Old Boys and presumably have begun his career in the junior game in Stirlingshire and West Lothian.You see, whilst Johnny Moscardini was perhaps Italy's first great centre-forward, he was a Scottish one, born in Falkirk, where the Moscardini chip-shop cum cafe still exists, although no longer owned by the family. And he would end his days in Monkton by Prestwick, where he for many years had a cafe and where he is buried, the fore-runner of so many Scottish-Italians to have illuminated our game and the epitome the Scottish-Italian contribution at all levels to making Scottish life so distinctive. His and Barga's fuller story is told by clicking on the link-below.
But Barga has more and more modern Scottish tales to tell. Between 2014-18 George Biagi won twenty-three caps for Italy but for rugby. Between 2012 and 2020 he played for the Parma team, Zebre, but he learned the game at Fettes in Edinburgh and was born in Irvine of a Scottish-Barga family. And then there is the story of the other product of not only the Tuscan town and the Scots-Italian fish-and-chip shop, this time in Paisley, but also Celtic devotee, one Paulo Nutini. Need I say more.
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