Love lures ‘big-city boy’ to small town
‘‘I love this little town’’
A Cromwell business owner who brings the flavours of Italy to Central Otago never imagined he would settle in a small town, but he is here to stay.
Armando Varlotta, who runs the Italian cafe-restaurant, Armando’s, in Cromwell’s historic precinct, was made a New Zealand citizen at a ceremony in the Central Otago District Council chambers on Friday.
He joined Ross Campbell, Theresa Faafoi, Stephen Holmes and Judith Hore at the function hosted by mayor Tony Lepper, and St Gerard’s Primary School pupils who sang the national anthem with the new Kiwis.
Varlotta said he moved to Cromwell in 2009, having spent 15 years in London running an agrotourism business. The dining-style was popular in Italy and involved opening a farmhouse to the public and using products they grew themselves.
‘‘The most important thing for me being in the country is being recognised as one of them. I want to belong to a place. It has been a long time coming. It is definitely a big deal.
‘‘Italy is a beautiful country if you go on holiday but if you live there it is hard. For me, I might be Italian, but I don’t fit in with the society.’’
He originally intended to settle in Australia, but love brought him to Central Otago, New Zealand.
‘‘I was going to move to Australia. I know people there and it was the easiest option for me, but because I met Bob I decided to come to New Zealand.’’
Initially, he never thought he would call a place like Cromwell home, but he has grown to ‘‘love this little town’’.
‘‘If it wasn’t for Bob, there was no way. If it was my first choice I would never have moved to Cromwell. I am a city boy. When I first came here, coming to a small town, I thought, ‘how am I going to do this?’ It was very hard to start with. There are not many foreigners living in a small town.’’
In 2011, during the recession, he opened his business.
‘‘No-one wanted to open a business here then. This place was like a ghost town. It was a pretty tough couple of years, but it is better now.
‘‘I love this little town. It is small compared with where I come from but it’s still quite unique, it is beautiful, the town is full of lovely, nice people. It is a region full of food and wine, it is close to Wanaka and Queenstown, the summers here are beautiful, and even in the cold winter it is still stunning.’’
Italian-born Armando Varlotta is celebrating his new Kiwi status.