Press release: 1 April 2019
A venue in Poole, Dorset, is at the centre of a diplomatic dispute, caused by impending Brexit legislative changes. The Italian Villa, based at Compton Acres near Sandbanks, has been earmarked as one of fifty “European Heritage” properties around the UK that are being sought back as European assets following Britain leaving the European Union.
The venue was contacted by Secretary of cultural affairs for the Italian Ambassador, Mario Spaghettio, with a list of requirements. These include the venue hoisting the Italian flag in a prominent position, and for any food and wine served in the venue needing to be from a pre-approved list of Italian classics.
Mr Spaghettio explained the position: “This venue, like others across the UK, is steeped in European heritage. It is the right held by the Italian government, under the auspices of the EU, to make this heritage clear by reclaiming it as an Italian asset. The Italian flag will fly aloft, and visitors will still enjoy top quality cuisine, but of a strictly Italian style.”
Tony Beales, Managing Director of Beales Gourmet Ltd, who manage The Italian Villa, said: “The situation has been explained to us. Whilst not our first choice, we’ve been given the option of retaining management of the venue if we comply with the requirements of this heritage project. Our chefs are fast learners, so they’ll create a great Italian experience for all guests. Staff have also been briefed and will be brushing up on their Italian linguistic skills in preparation.”
A spokesperson for Poole’s Tourism body has said: “We are not at all happy about this. The Italian Villa is a Poole venue enjoyed by local businesses and wedding guests from around the UK. However, this is not the only venue in the UK to face this fate, so we will do our utmost to support the move and to support the team at the Villa in future.”
The venue’s signage is currently being replaced in anticipation of the move, with a minor name change to Villa Italiano.
* Please note the date of press release.