Done Roman: the Italian connection in Brighton. Okay, the links between Italy and Brighton are slim. The ancient Romans seemed to like the bracing sea air and gently sloping, green and pleasant land lying between the English Channel and the South Downs, building a number of villas in the area. Archaeologists are yet to discover whether this period saw the first Italian restaurant in Brighton. Rather down on its luck after the retreat of the Romans, Brighton experienced a renaissance quite separate to that of Italy in the mid-18th century when it became a hub for transport from France. Roads into London were improved, and the fad for ’taking the sea air’ and bathing in spas gripped the gentry of the British Isles. Brighton’s famous Georgian terraces were shooting up by the time the 19th century rolled around, given a boost when King George IV bestowed his patronage on the blossoming town and built the famous Royal Pavilion to the northeast of the old town – an area now known as the Lanes that is home to many of Brighton’s best Italian restaurants and many other cafes, restaurants and bars. The London and Brighton Railway, completed in 1841, brought thousands of daytrippers to the seaside resort from London, a tradition that continues to this day. In the hundred years up to 1901, Brighton’s population mushroomed from 7000 to 120,000. These days Brighton is known variously as the UK’s hippest city, the unofficial gay capital of the UK, the happiest place to live in the UK, and boasts a population of just under 300,000 while playing host to several million tourists per year.