Let’s face it – we all want to be Italian or dream we may have been Italian in a former life. Driving a convertible along the Amalfi Coast, eating cacio e pepe and exploring the Forum in Rome. It’s all sunshine and wine. If Italians have a bad day – we rarely see it. That’s why Festitalia is a chance for us all to be Italian – for at least one day.
Italians have been part of Australian history since James Matra and Antonio Ponto were on board the Endeavour when it sailed into Botany Bay. 1778 saw convict Giuseppi Tuzo arrive on the First Fleet and later, Raffaello Carboni gave the only detailed, eyewitness account of the Eureka Stockade.
Many Italians made their way to Queensland to escape poverty. In 1861, an official immigration scheme was established. Some immigrants ended up in Ingham and became the backbone of the sugar cane industry for over a century. Dr Francesco Piscitelli generously established the Italian hospital in 1929 that serviced not only Italians but all in the region.
Italian post-war immigration slowly altered the Aussie attitude to life, love and the day-to-day. Italian immigrants worked hard and didn’t spend their Saturdays mowing. They brought a cultural heritage that was very different from our Anglo Celtic ways. Growing grapes for vino and tomatoes for sauce. Family, football and food were the mainstays.
Festitalia 2018 is a dazzling, all-singing, dancing, Venetian glass blowing and gourmet extravaganza. The internationally acclaimed Gruppo Storico Fivizzano Flag throwers will perform feats that date back to medieval times while the Brisbane Tarantella dancers will also perform. Aria award-winning vocalist Cosima de Vito will be joined by the favourite Italian tenor Raffaele Pierno.
Prima Spado is bringing their swordsmanship A-game, celebrating the 16th-century masters with lessons throughout the day. There are historical re-enactments by Pax Romana while one of Festitalia’s favourites the ‘Talk Italian’ Tent returns for those whose conversational Italian is a little rusty.
Then, the food. Chef Andrea Ravezzani from the acclaimed Noosa Waterfront Restaurant and Bar will be part of the cooking demonstration line-up alongside Ristorante Tartufo’s Roberto D’anna. Alessandro Motta and Rosanno Tantulli. There’s calamari, cannoli, gnocchi, granita, meatballs and what’s an Italian Festa without Cannoli and Gelato Eating Competitions.
Newmarket’s Spencer Park will be all things Italian on Sunday, October 14 from 11 am to 6 pm. Festitalia is so much more than pizza, pasta and gelato. It’s a celebration of the Italian community’s contribution to Queensland and a chance for us all to live the sweet life.