Little Brickhill was celebrating all things Italian when it was officially twinned with the village of Colle Sannita at the weekend.
The sun shone and a brass band added to the festive mood as VIPs from the picturesque Italian hilltop village mingled with locals including Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart and the town’s mayor, Cllr Keith Mclean.
Cllr McLean said: “It was really buzzing, a fantastic event.
“It was interesting to learn a bit about the background to the twinning. There were many Italians here after the war and they retained their relationship with the local community.
“It was lovely to meet the mayor of Colle Sannita, who shares a birthday with my wife Vicki.
“We judged a cake cometition together and chose one shaped like the Colisseum.”
Families turned out in force to join in the entertainment. There were all sorts of activites including sack and three-legged races, a tug-of-war and good-natured football matches between Italy and England.
In addition there was a pig roast and a barn dance featuring Italian singer Sergio Marinaro.
The new village playground was declared open in a joint ceremony involving the two Mayors.
The brains behind this Italian entente cordiale was popular restaurateur Antonio Zeolla of La Collina at The George Inn.
He and his wife Angelina both hail from Colle Sannita and have always maintained close ties with the village, 80 mile snorth of Naples.
Antonio said: “The twinning is really thanks to Little Brickhill’s Residents Association and the Anglo-Italian community.
“We invited Colle Sannita’s Mayor Giorgio Nista and our priest, Don Antonio Cerrone, to come and take part in the two-day festival. It was absolutely brilliant. People were enjoying themselves, laughing, eating ice cream.
“Sport and religion are very important in Italy and we had lots of both.
“The weekend ended with a really emotional Italian Catholic mass in the village’s beautiful old Anglican church, probably the most religious event there for 500 years.
“There was a choir, lots of speeches and singing and it was absolutely packed.”
Antonio said everyone feels they are now one big happy family and the two villages will start a tradition of hosting each other alternate years.