Cornwall’s links with Italy were once very fishy. Being a Catholic country, inhabitants were required to eat fish, especially at Lent. To help with the supply, Cornish fish merchants sent barrels of pilchards by the boat load to ports such as Genoa. There was even a poem celebrating this trade…

“Here’s a health to the Pope, may he never know sorrow, with pilchards today, and pilchards tomorrow”.

Fishing harbours such as Newlyn, Mevagissey and Looe (where there’s now a heritage centre for the industry) exported the small fish in their 10,000s until the 1930s when trade with Italy was stopped.

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