The Italian Renaissance
6th February 2016
We've had the Spanish revolution in the past here at the Liberty Stadium, hopefully it's now time for the Italian renaissance.
The arrival of Francesco Guidolin has certainly caused a lot of comment in the wider football world with some questioning why a 60-year-old Italian has been chosen ahead of younger rising coaches from closer to home.
Others have criticised the Swans for first appointing club legend Alan Curtis as interim manager until the end of the season, only to bring in the new man a few days later.
Curtis himself has had no qualms about the Italian's arrival, offering him a typically warm Welsh welcome and one typical of the man himself.
So, I thought the rest of us should follow suit in helping Francesco , his assistant Gabriele Ambrosetti and new Italian striker Alberto Paloschi feel at home.
Mind you, Ambrosetti is already impressed with the city: "Swansea is an enchanting place: the hilly landscapes and the awesome sea view. Francesco and I like walking along the coast. It's a bit windy and rainy now, so we haven't brought our bikes yet."
And he has been impressed by the welcome they have received locally: "Since in Swansea the first thing I've noticed are the people: they are so friendly and kind. It's a big family and we've been welcomed by everyone, from the cooks to the president (Huw Jenkins), who's an adorable person.
It shouldn't come as a surprise really as South Wales has a long and proud history of welcoming Italians.
The names of Bracchi, Cresci, Carpanini, Sidoli, Conti and Cascarini (Joe's) among many others have become household names for making some of the finest ice cream in the United Kingdom.
Most came from the Italian village of Bardi and established themselves by setting up businesses. You won't travel far around South Wales without coming across a cafe with an Italian name.
But there were also many who came across to work in Wales' thriving coal mines in the mid to late 1800s.
As well as working hard, the Italians played hard. When I was playing local league football, almost every team seemed to have someone of Italian descent in their line up.
At Gwaun Cae-Gurwen AFC in the Neath League, we were pushing our foreign player quota to the limit back in the Eighties as we had three "Italian-imports" in the shape of the Dallavalle brothers of Frank's and Mario's ice cream fame.
As I recall, back then, there was even a representative team called "South Wales Italians" - an illustration of their numbers in the region and their love of sport.
Guidolin is apparently a big fan of cycling. I'm sure he would enjoy a tour of the valleys' Italian cafes on his bike.
With the amount of rain we've been having recently, parts of Swansea have more resembled Venice than Velindre.
And if Francesco and Co are pining for the leaning tower at Pisa, then should head for Caerphilly to see the famous leaning castle tower.
The trio of new arrivals only have to glance out of the windows at the back of the West Stand at Liberty Stadium to see some instantly familiar sights and names.
Just across the road there's Frankie and Benny's restaurant, although I'm not sure how many branches of the American-Italian style restaurants there are in the homeland.
Across the road there's Vesuvio restaurant, and, of course, there's the famous Rossi's Original Fish and Chips just along Neath Road.
The surname is bound to bring back happy footballing memories for the trio . . . particularly Francesco and Gabriele.
Paulo Rossi was the Italian centre forward whose goals fired his nation to its 1982 World Cup win in Spain.
A hat-trick against Brazil, two more goals in the semi-final against Poland and another one in the 3-1 win over West Germany in the final meant that Rossi claimed the Golden Boot award in the tournament.
What more inspiration could Alberto Paloschi need every time he turns into the Liberty Stadium car park?!
Despite the number of people of Italian descent living in the area, the Swans haven't really had a huge history with the Azzurri.
The most famous Italian to play for the Swans was Cardiff-born Georgio Chinaglia, who went on to play for Lazio, where he was named the greatest player in the club's history and New York Cosmos, where he became the North American Soccer League's all-time leading scorer.
He also represented the national team, including two appearances at the 1974 World Cup.
But his time with the Swans was relatively undistinguished , only managing a handful of appearances before heading to his father's native Italy in search of success.
Hopefully, the new Italian trio who have joined the club will extend the phenomenally successful Italian influence on the South Wales valleys will extend to Swansea City over the coming months.