A LINK between her family and a former Italian Prisoner of War (PoW) has inspired a new novel by award-winning Bala author Siân Melangell Dafydd.

She drew inspiration for Filò from her family’s real-life experience in World War Two when an Italian PoW was assigned to work on their farm.

But, far from being a bond of restraint, this evolved into a bond of friendship which thrived over four generations.

Pietro Busetti worked on the farm of Margaret and Dafydd Davies from 1943 until World War II ended in 1945.

Though they were technically enemies, they found themselves working as allies in the struggle to overcome shortages of resources in rural Wales. Pietro was also from an agricultural community and it soon became clear that their differing cultures had much in common.

Until recently, Siân taught Creative Writing at the American University of Paris. She is a respected poet and also a former co-editor of Welsh literary magazine, Taliesin.

Flio is set at the time of World War II after the battle of El Alamein. At the core of the plot is a gaggle of young men and boys from all over Italy who speak various dialects. They suddenly find themselves in Welsh prisoner camps and then living among families.

As well as drawing from her own friendship with the Busettis, Siân also interviewed Oswaldo Fontana, a one-time neighbour in Bala who was also a former Italian Prisoner of War. She borrowed his surname for the main character in her book, Guido Fontana.

New mum Siân, 42, and son, Ewen, are now living back home in Bala.

Talking about her Italian connection, she said: “When I was eleven, my father found a notebook of my grandmother’s including correspondence from Pietro. Dad was fascinated and decided to take us on a journey to Italy to reconnect with him.

“Amazingly, he succeeded. He found Pietro, who just hadn’t had enough education to continue correspondence over the years since his 1959 return to Italy. They said they had an inkling we might turn up one day and even took us to find other Italian friends who knew Nain.”

The Welsh language edition of Filo was unveiled at yr Hwb, Bala on February 29.