When they were first getting to know each other, they spoke to one another in French as that was their only common language. They were quickly engaged and in 1996 Nikki brought Ciro home to Scotland. They were married in 1997 and started their family. Ciro was gaining experience working in Italian restaurants in Edinburgh and Nikki started childminding while they raised their two children, Fabi and Cameron. They then went into business in Kirkcaldy with a partner and ran La Gondola.
In 2007, they decided to move to Callander as there was the opportunity to have their very own restaurant there. Nikki says, “Our two kids were five and six at that point. We had been looking around the country to open an Italian restaurant and this wee restaurant in Callander was up for sale. It needed a lot of work, but we were up for the challenge.“
Nikki then made the connection that her maternal Great Nonna, had moved to Callander from Italy. Everything about the decision felt right. She says, “Everything happens for a reason.”
They had a great first year then the 2008 recession hit. Nikki says, “Going to a restaurant was the last thing people were doing. We didn’t know what to do so I got a part-time job at a self-catering holiday place eventually becoming the full-time the manager and I loved it. I ended up working there for eight years which allowed us to keep paying our staff and keep the business going.”