A COCKENZIE family have returned to their Italian roots and opened a food-lover’s dream holiday destination.

They have restored the home of their ancestors in Picinisco in Lazio, Italy, and turned it into a holiday destination complete with a boutique hotel, cookery school and winery.

Members of the Di Ciacca family moved to Cockenzie 100 years ago and Cesido Di Ciacca took over The Cockenzie Cafe, a cafe, fish & chip shop and ice-cream shop, in 1920.

The family lived above the shop on 48 High Street and integrated themselves into the community. Cesido was soon the honorary president of Cockenzie Star football club.

The shop stayed in the family and closed in 1990, just before Cesido’s son, Johnnie Di Ciacca, died.

Johnnie’s own son, who is now 65 and is also called Cesido, lived in Cockenzie from his birth until he married his wife Selina, 58, in 1982. The couple continued to live in Scotland until 2012 when they started their new business venture in Italy.

The last of the Di Ciacca family to live in Picinisco died in 1969 and their hamlet ‘I Ciacca’ had been abandoned ever since.

I Ciacca is a small hamlet near the town of Picinisco, Val Comino. The area is a historic region between Rome and Naples.

I Ciacca has now been established as an ‘Albergo Diffuso’, which translates as a ‘scattered hotel’.

Cesido and Selina moved to I Ciacca and began restoring the buildings ahead of opening their boutique hotel, Sotto Le Stelle, in 2012.

The same year, the Di Ciacca family started to clear the ground to plant vines at I Ciacca. A vineyard has now been re-cultivated and local farm produce revitalised, enabling the family to bring food, drink and authentic Italian hospitality back to Picinisco.

The historic family buildings have also now been restored and turned into the cookery school, winery and further accommodation.

This second and final phase of the I Ciacca project was completed in September this year. The hotel, cookery school and winery are now complete and taking bookings for overnight stays, cookery classes and winery/vineyard tours.

Cesidio Di Ciacca, said: “One hundred years since leaving to come to Scotland, we’re immensely proud to be putting Picinisco, Val di Comino, back on the food lovers’ map with the launch of I Ciacca.

“I Ciacca was home to generations of the Di Ciacca family for over 500 years. By breathing new life into our family’s forgotten hamlet and the town, we’re now able to offer a new generation of food and wine enthusiasts the chance to experience authentic Italian hospitality in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

“Our family’s heritage of quality ice cream, food and hospitality since 1920 in East Lothian is still to be found in Scotland today, including some of the best restaurants, cafes, delicatessens and wine merchants in Edinburgh.

“From I Ciacca we organise food and wine tours to learn about genuine local foods from pasta, pizza, cheese, prosciutto and other cured meats, to our own olive oil; and let’s not forget wine – especially our very special Maturano.”

The Di Ciacca family is also working with one of the world’s top winemakers, Alberto Antonini, to produce a new range of speciality organic wines made from their own Maturano grapes – a unique variety from Picinisco, almost lost and only recently brought back into commercial cultivation.

The Di Ciacca family has just released its Nostalgia IGT Lazio Maturano in Scotland, which is the first time that Maturano wine will be commercially available in the country. It is now available to purchase from Edinburgh’s Valvona & Crolla.

Cesido, his wife Selina, and son Giovanni, 20, now live in Picinisco for most of the year, but still spend time in Scotland. His daughter Sofia, 30, lives between Edinburgh and Picinisco.

Cesido’s brother Paul and his cousins Marietta and Laura still live in Cockenzie whilst his sisters are Mary Contini, director of Valvona and Crolla Ltd in Edinburgh, and Carina Contini of Contini George Street, Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.