Family Fun at FESTA! San Diego's Little Italy Celebrates 150 years

For the love of Italy, head to Little Italy FESTA!


Photo San Diego Little Italy Association

Largest Italian festival outside of New York commemorates Italy’s 150th Anniversary with a celebration of Italian food, culture and entertainment.

San Diego’s famous Little Italy neighborhood and The Little Italy Association (LIA) are proud to announce the 17th annual Little Italy FESTA!  The free event is Sunday, October 9, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are activities for food-lovers, art-lovers, sports-lovers, music-lovers and lovers of all things Italian! More than 150 food, art and retail vendors will make the already popular business district a must-attend for locals and visitors alike.

This is a special year for attendees to join in the celebration of Italy’s 150th Anniversary.  In 1861, after the wars waged against the Austrians and once the Garibaldi expedition to Sicily was completed, the long period of political and military fights leading Italy to unification was over. That year, national unity was proclaimed in Torino, which became the first capital city of Italy.  At the Little Italy FESTA! attendees will get a chance to learn more about Italy’s history and celebrate its sesquicentennial year. 

Thousands are expected to head to the annual event with heart for all things Italian including big appetites for Italian food, cheer for Italian culture and excitement to view chalk art at“Gesso Italiano”.  Reknown as one of the best Little Italy communities in the nation, the event’s “Italian Table” will feature local Italian chefs who will demonstrate how to make the best Italian dishes and provide free samples and recipes to attendees. Three stages of entertainment will feature an array of classic and current Italian-inspired music. For those 21 and up, LIA presents a beer and wine garden featuring Italian and local favorite brews.

One of the top features of the event is “Gesso Italiano”, where around140 artists who represent 40 teams from across the nation will create colorful works of art using chalk as their medium and the city streets as their canvas.  This special art experience is based on what actually takes place in Italy.  The artwork is available for viewing for only a short time as the City streets will be washed at the end of the event.

Attendees will not want to miss the viewing of an authentic Italian stickball exhibition game where the players show their skill and pride of the classic sport. In addition, a bocce ball tournament will take place throughout the day.  Families are invited to check out the interactive children’s area where fun hands-on activities for kids make the overall experience at Little Italy FESTA! memorable.

“Little Italy FESTA! is the best,” said Steven Galasso, president of LIA. “We are proud of our Italian heritage and this event creates a day where everyone can celebrate our shared love of Italy.”

Insider tips:

1) Check out the creation of the Gesso Italian chalk painting as the artists get started on their works of art on Sat., Oct. 8, the day before the big event.  The eve of the event brings enthusiasm to the whole neighborhood and creates an opportunity to get a feel for the community from a local’s perspective.

2) Visit the Chef’s demonstration table for a chance to learn how to cook from the pros.  Top Italian chefs based in San Diego are featured.

3) Bring cash.  Many of the vendor booths have reasonably priced Italian food such as calamari; arancini balls, meatballs, paninipasta, pizza and more. These booths are typically cash-only. 

4) Take a seat.  Take some time to rest in-between visits to all the event destinations.  Areas for seating are spread throughout the event and make a terrific place to dine, sip espresso, enjoy gelato and listen to any one of the variety of musical venues.

5) All of the local restaurants will be open and overflowing.  Attendees are encouraged to make reservations early to secure a table during the event.

Little Italy FESTA! serves as a fundraiser for the continued beautification, safety and development of the community.  There will be chances for attendees to bid on exciting raffle items with donations supporting the LIAThese items includeAlitilia tickets for a trip to Italy; a variety of restaurant gift certificates, etc.

A full schedule of event activities is posted on the Little Italy Association's Web site:

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