STOCKBRIDGE welcomed a new business on Saturday designed to bring la dolce vita to its High Street.

La Bella Donna (“the beautiful woman”) sells hand-made Italian shoes, handbags, shawls and scarves and glass jewellery from Murano.

The business is run by Sophie Walters and Jane Young, who spent a number a years working together in Italy before moving to Stockbridge to set up shop.

Sophie said: “Jane and I have worked together in Italy for eight years now, developing houses for the rental market, and in our travels around this beautiful country we have come across so many wonderful things, so we decided to set up a shop selling exclusively Italian products.

“We source all our products directly from the manufacturers, which has been enormous fun, and we have built a great rapport with them.

“They are as interested in our shop as we are, it seems.

“They love the fact that we speak Italian and so can get under the skin of the culture.

“All of our manufacturers are family-run businesses passed down through the generations.

“What is different about our shop is that, because we go to the factories, we actually choose the leather, the heels, the little touches that make them unique.”

The shop extends the Italian experience with Italian music playing softly in the background, pictures of iconic Italian things and real Italian espresso on offer to customers.

The shop is open six days a week from 10am to 5pm, as well as the occasional Sunday.

Sophie added: “The opening on Saturday was overwhelming. So many people turned up and the till didn’t stop ringing.

“People were genuinely excited about the shop and we have had so many comments about what a great job we had done on the window displays, tasteful and enticing.”