How the bloody hell can New Italy survive amid highway work?
NEW ITALY is open for business to local and travelling visitors, with the pavilion, museum, cafe and other amenities available daily.
The village has a population of just 186, according to the 2016 census, and resident Adrian Murgo knows.
Mr Murgo settled in New Italy 12 years ago, and since then has seen the village hit by the Pacific Highway upgrade, drought, bushfires and pandemic restrictions in the last couple of years.
"We are missing locusts and frogs, I guess," he said.
Still, New Italy is open for business and happy to receive visitors.
Mr Murgo is part of the New Italy committee and lives across the road from the museum.
"Financially, we want people to come in, but also socially we love having visitors here," he explained.
An idea to build a service centre nearby is still being debated, but last summer's bushfires seem to have delayed that project, as no development has been submitted to council yet.
"My opinion is that we need better communications, better radio, TV and phone reception. After the bushfires, we realised that living too disconnected from society is not always a good thing," he said.
"We had two fires here, and it was a miracle … no, scrap that, it was because the community showed up and helped save the silks, the memories, the photos and all the valuable objects we have in the museum, that the place is now open again.
"We are a resilient group of people, and we are also supported by descendants of Italian people that live nearby."
The treasurer and acting secretary of the New Italy Museum, Peter Blackwood, said the place remains well-visited these days.
"Pre-COVID we were averaging about 600 to 650 visitors per day, and now the numbers have obviously decreased because there are fewer people on the road, to around 350 per day on average," he said.
"We're seeing around ten overnight stays a day on the rear car park.
"The carpark is currently an RMS stop off the highway, mainly northbound traffic coming from Coffs Harbour."
Once the highway upgrade is completed, close to the end of this year, New Italy hopes to reap the benefit of word-of-mouth popularity gained during the last 18 months.
So next time you feel like booking a trip to Rome or Venice, drive to New Italy instead and enjoy the experience.