Little Italy, Corris, Wales
Hidden in a corner of Wales, I was told about this garden - a model village - several years ago but only managed it in July 2007. Little Italy, as it is known to locals, was built by a fan of Italian architecture and with an apparent desire to showcase not just the art and architecture of Italy, but also record something of the history of Wales. Comparisons can be drawn with Portmeirion, the full-size Italianate village by Clough Williams-Ellis, some 30 miles north of Little Italy. Where Portmeirion is full size, Little Italy is a mixture of scales; every twist and turn of the crazy-paved paths leading along the ledges in the woody hillside reveal another masterfully crafted concrete or terracotta feature. Between the terraces, walls, arches and ecclesiastical architecture are collections of obsessively documented paraphernalia. Cats eyes, hub caps, quarry railway tracks, tools, bread ovens and number plates - are all displayed either in workshops or set into the landscape. And all are catalogued; labelled with tags or chiselled plaques in stone. Nothing was wasted; nothing was thrown away; every piece of debris has been recycled and given a new lease of life by Mark Bourne, Little Italy's late creator.

I'm known for my own obsessive interest in model villages and miniature parks; their histories, their reasons for being and their art intrigue me. But it's rare for me to be genuinely moved as I was that morning in Corris. Here was a setting so beautiful, so idyllic, and so lovingly crafted, that it goes beyond a museum of random artefacts; beyond a modelmaker's skilful recreation of full-size prototypes. Little Italy was created to share the beauty of art with other people and to enhance the lives of everyone. Mark Bourne's widow has just sold the tiny cottage and garden to a local artist. I hope it continues to attract and delight people of all ages. So next time you're in Wales, head over to Corris, near the West Coast. Climb the grassy track from Corris village through the woods. Just when you're about to give up and turn back, you'll see a tiny spire above a topiary hedge. Turn the corner and you'll be glad you made the trip.

icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_method=full...

www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1134858

www.multimap.com/maps/#t=l&map=52.65575,-3.84477|18|8&loc=GB:52.66292:-3.85947:14|
84 photos · 2,255 views