A friendship pact between South Ayrshire and the city of Barga in Italy was made official at a special ceremony earlier this week. 

Provost Iain Campbell signed the agreement in the County Buildings on behalf of South Ayrshire, along with Caterina Campani, Mayor of Barga, who signed on behalf of the town.

Barga is often referred to as the "most Scottish town in Italy", with many Scottish-Italian families hailing from the small town.

At the end of the 19th century, a number of residents of the Tuscan town emigrated to Scotland.

Although many families remained in Scotland, some have returned to Barga over the years and now up to 40 per cent of present-day residents have Scottish relatives.

Of the Italian families who remained in Scotland, many are responsible for opening the much-loved fish and chip shops, ice cream parlours and Italian restaurants along the west coast, which have had a huge influence on Scotland's food culture today.

Ties between Barga and South Ayrshire are strong, with Mayor Campani visiting Ayr on numerous occasions.

Provost Campbell hosted a civic reception in 2022 to welcome officials from Barga, and in 2023 he attended a local celebration of Scottish-Italian heritage alongside Mayor Campani.

The purpose of a friendship pact is to collaborate in the fields of culture, tourism, public administration, education, and sport.

The two areas have also promised to promote understanding, peace, and mutual respect between the communities.

Provost Campbell said: "I'm delighted that South Ayrshire has now entered into a friendship agreement with Barga - a town with which our history is interwoven through generations.

"This connection between the two towns dates back centuries, and the signing of the agreement signifies our commitment to strengthening the bond even further in years to come.

"It was important to me that members of South Ayrshire's Scottish-Italian community were able to attend the ceremony to mark the occasion and celebrate their rich heritage.

"It was a fantastic event."