Piper from Largs, Scotland playing at Villa Moorings

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The sound of  Scottish bagpipes could be heard this afternoon in Barga Giardino as Billy Paton,  a guest staying at the Hotel Villa Moorings  offered a short concert as a wedding present to Beatrice,  the owner of the hotel,  who will be getting married later on this month.

The Piper who hails from Largs in Scotland was visiting nearby Modena to play at his son’s wedding but then heard about ” Barga – the most Scottish town in Italy”  and so instead of returning directly to Scotland called in to Barga  to see why it was so famous in his home town.

Where better place to stay than the Hotel Villa Moorings  which was built by the Castelvecchi family who made their money after emigrating to Largs in Scotland.

Villa Moorings was purposely commissioned  by Leonello Castelvecchi.

Born in Barga, son of a farmer, Leonello, like many of his fellow-citizens he emigrated, seeking fortune, firstly in the United States then, later in Scotland: here, in a small town on the river Clyde, Largs, a short distance from Glasgow, he accomplished one of his greatest dreams.

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Leonello started  with a small business making ice-cream which he sold from a three wheeled barrow.

Then gradually through perseverance , great sacrifices and his small ice cream business, he was then able to open fish and chip shops, kiosks, small restaurants and pubs.

To crown his success he started to build one single complex in Largs, The Moorings Restaurant with a ballroom a restaurant seating 1000 people, cafè, ice- cream  parlour and lounge bar.

The Moorings was managed by the founder himself with the help of his three sons (Castelson): Corrado, Lio and Cosimo.

Ieri al Giardino risuonavano le note di una cornamusa: era quella di Billy Paton, un ospite di  Villa Moorings che ha offerto un piccolo concerto a Beatrice Salvi, titolare dell’hotel, come dono di nozze dato che tra pochi giorni si celebrerà il suo matrimonio.

Billy Paton proviene da Largs (Scozia) ed in questi giorni era a Modena per suonare la sua cornamusa al matrimonio del figlio; lì ha sentito dire che Barga è la città più scozzese d’Italia e quindi, invece di rientrare in Scozia direttamente, è voluto passare da Barga per vedere come mai questa cittadina era così famosa.

Nessun posto migliore dove stare che Villa Moorings, che fu costruita dalla faiglia Castelvecchi proprio con i soldi guadagnati come emigrati a Largs.

In 1924 the Castelvecchi family still tied to it’s Barghigiani roots, as proof of there success and for there love for Barga, commissioned the construction of Villa Moorings, which was to become their holiday home  .

Villa Moorings was planned and built in a Liberty  style, rich in architectural and  pictorial art dècor, high quality marble wrought iron railings  precious wood fittings, representative cut crystals, furnished with Murano chandeliers, and Florentine upholstery; such magnificence and luxury provoked astonishment in the observer and was  proof of the economic success reached by the family.

After the death of the founder and sons, Villa Moorings inherited by descendants of Leonello was bought by one of the heirs, Letizia Lio’s daughter ,to become the business which it is today managed by Beatrice, Letizia’s daughter with the promise to maintain its distinguished profile and original atmosphere.


In the interview Billy mentioned grace notes – in bagpipe music there is extensive use of grace notes. Indeed, because the chanter is not tongued but supplied by a continuous air source from the bag, grace notes are sometimes the only way to differentiate between notes. For example, inserting a grace note between two crotchets (quarter notes) played at the same pitch is the only way to indicate them as opposed to them sounding like a single minim (half note). Various multiple grace note ornaments are formalised into distinct types, such as doublings, throws, and birls. A single grace note is played on the beat as is the first grace note of a complex ornament such as a doubling. The ornament taorluath is an exception: its last grace note is played on the beat. Gracenotes are typically played as short as possible by lifting the fingers quickly and a short distance off the chanter.


A short interview (in English) recorded outside the Villa Moorings this afternoon.


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