20 years of bringing a little Italy to the Ribble Valley NEW

We speak to Maurizio Bocchi about living and building a business in Lancashire

Nestled in the small village of Gisburn in the breathtaking Ribble Valley, you will find a fantastic restaurant which this December celebrates its 20th anniversary.

La Locanda is housed in a charming cottage building which provides the cosiest feel for its visitors. With a mouthwatering Italian menu, the establishment has also just been awarded the accolade of the UK’s Best Independent Italian Restaurant at the PAPA Industry Awards. But what really makes it stand out, is the warm welcome that you get from the moment you step in the door by owners Maurizio and Cinzia Bocchi.

Head chef and Lancashire Taste Ambassador Maurizio was born and grew up on the banks of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. Here a young Maurizio cultivated his passion for good food and traditional ingredients. That passion was born from unforgettable woodland walks with his grandmother, foraging for chestnuts and mushrooms, learning to recognise and taste them at their best, and memories of his mother, who every morning would knead the flour from the local mill and collect eggs from the hen house to prepare fresh pasta for lunch.

From a childhood spent in the countryside, Maurizio studied farming and horticulture with chemistry, gaining a diploma as a Perito Agrario, or agricultural expert, and began working in an agriturisimo, which is a holiday farm, caring for animals and expanding his knowledge of butter, cheese and cured meats manufacturing.

Thirsting for more knowledge and experience and with a goal to open an Italian restaurant of their own, Maurizio and Cinzia made the decision to move to Lancashire in 1996 with their two dogs so that Maurizio could continue his education at Myerscough College, working evenings as a Comis Chef at a local Italian restaurant; however, he was soon promoted to Sous Chef!

The dream became a reality when the couple purchased, and lovingly renovated, what would become La Locanda. The restaurant opened its doors on 9th December 2003 and the husband and wife team have been delivering quality ingredients and service ever since. Working six days a week together in the restaurant doesn’t exactly allow for much down time, but when they can, the pair love to take a drive, see the Lancashire scenery and go in search of great food and good coffee and with their dog Pax. When asked why Lancashire, the answer is clear; it reminds them of home; “We have always felt very much at home in Lancashire and the surrounding villages remind us very much of Italy – from the Springtime weather (and rain!) to the friendly, welcoming people. So, although we are Italian … we also feel a little bit Lancastrian too.”

Of course, Maurizio has brought everything learned and remembered from Italy to the Ribble Valley countryside. The restaurant promises to serve handcrafted dishes of authentic flavours which respect the traditions of Italian cuisine, culture and heritage. The menu is full of authentic, seasonal family recipes that go back generations giving customers a true taste of Italy whenever they visit. This taste comes from a mix of ingredients from small local producers and native Italian suppliers that share the same ethos of Maurizio’s, using natural farming, free from chemicals and pesticides and offering the highest standards of animal welfare.

It is the high standards and education that Maurizio has which have inspired him to take La Locanda further in its role as a place to understand how the food we consume can make a difference to our lives. This is especially prevalent in his ambition to promote the health benefits of a mediterranean diet. Maurizio’s ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) campaign for a Healthier Future’ aims to introduce EVOO as a sixth element of the daily diet and he uses the highest quality EVOO from Italy in his cooking. While Maurizio has ramped up the campaign this year, it is something that he has been passionate about for a number of years; a career highlight was hosting the UK’s first Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3-day symposium at Gorton Monastery in Manchester securing national press coverage with Cinzia in 2013.

There have been so many highlights for the couple since La Locanda opened its doors 20 years ago, including being recognised as one of The Telegraph’s ‘500 Best Restaurants in Great Britain & Ireland’ in 2013 and awarded the Visit England Bronze award in 2016; the first time in the awards history where an ethnic restaurant was recognised and awarded for using local produce/ingredients. Maurizio was proud to join Marketing Lancashire’s Taste Ambassador line up in 2022, the same year that he was invited to the House of Commons by Sir Lyndsay Hoyle as part of a delegation to represent the county’s finest food and drink producers for Lancashire Day.

These highlights are sure to be topped with Maurizio’s future plans, including a desire to create La Locanda beer, gin and coffee, which we can’t wait to sample!


In addition to 2023 being La Locanda’s 20th anniversary, the year saw Maurizio chosen as one of 3 chefs to help promote Italian cheeses in a national campaign for the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), and the launch of his new YouTube series “Agrichef on Wheels”. The series sees Maurizio travel by motorbike around Lancashire and the areas surrounding Gisburn to visit local producers and suppliers, then recreate traditional Italian recipes using the ingredients picked up and foraged on location, outside on a portable heater!


You’ll find it hard to beat the ambition and passion for providing people with healthy, home cooked meals that is found at La Locanda from Maurizio and Cinzia. The next few years will be spent putting even more passion into what they do, and the couple hope that by the time La Locanda reaches its 30th year, they can find someone with the same passion to continue its amazing journey.

Maurizio has a few tips for that someone, and any others who wish to go into the world of restaurant ownership; “Bring passion, enjoy every day, challenge yourself and learn from your mistakes but always stay positive! Understand there will be bad days and good days… on the bad days, it can only get better, so celebrate every achievement and you’ll keep growing. And on top of all that, make good friends along the way!”

As mentioned, La Locanda celebrate their 20th Anniversary this weekend, December 9th, but the celebrations will continue throughout their 20th year. Look out for more information on their website and social media pages, and book your table for this weekend or over the Christmas Period to celebrate with them!