FESTA! to Embrace Little Italy with a Celebration of All Things Italian | Sunday, October 14th

September 25, 2012

The Little Italy Association (LIA) presents the largest Italian festival on the West Coast with its 18th annual FESTA!, an all day celebration of  Italian food, culture and entertainment in San Diego’s famous Little Italy neighborhood, taking place on Sunday, October 14th from 10am to 6pm.  Along with the featured chalk art event "Gesso Italiano," and an Italian Motorsport exhibit, the festival will also include over 150 food, art and retail vendors, "Italian Table" cooking and prep demonstrations for Italian dishes, a beer and wine garden, a stickball exhibition and bocceball tournament, a Top Chef meet and greet, and much, much more!

Attracting over 120,000 people, Little Italy’s FESTA! features tasty Italian cuisine, traditional and modern Italian music, arts and activities for all ages, a kids fun zone, and many other event features. Along with countless specialty vendors, the Little Italy community transforms into a cultural Italian escape for both locals and visitors.

Attendees of this year’s FESTA! will find themselves completely immersed in Italian culture. There will be a host of Italian food choices including popular restaurants and vendor booths, as well as tastes from the festival’s “Italian Table” stage which will feature chef demonstrations on how to prepare classic and contemporary Italian dishes. There will also be a pizza tossing competition where competitors will take the stage for 5 minute intervals to demonstrate to the crowd their dough skills.  Three stages of entertainment will set the tone with an array of ethnic music and demos. For those 21 and up, LIA will present a beer and wine garden featuring Italian and local favorite brews.

One of the most highly anticipated elements of event is the chalk art at “Gesso Italiano.” Gesso Italiano brings more than 160 artists and teams together from across the nation to create colorful works of art using chalk as their medium and the city streets as their canvas. This year’s theme for these amazing chalk paintings is “Regions of Italy”. This special art experience is authentically based on the traditional art form originating in Italy. The artwork takes two days to complete, and it’s available for viewing only during the FESTA! weekend, as the city streets will be washed at the end of the event.  Based on experience, you won't believe your eyes seeing the artistic creations at the Gesso Italiano.

Guests are also encouraged to take a seat and cheer on the Italian stickball exhibition game, where players show off their skill and pride for the classic sport. A bocce ball tournament, a game with roots dating all the way back to the Roman Empire, will take place throughout the day. An interactive children’s area filled with hands-on activities for kids makes Little Italy FESTA! a true family event.

“The heritage of Little Italy FESTA! means a great deal to all,” said Steven Galasso, president of LIA. “Whether it’s your first visit to experience FESTA! or you haven’t missed it since its beginnings 18 years ago, get ready to fall in love with the spirit of Italy!”

Chef Antonia Lofaso
Another exciting announcements for this year's FESTA! is that Chef Antonia Lofaso, a contestant on BRAVO's hit series, Top Chef and a finalist on Top Chef All-Stars, will be attending this year's celebration.   Along with Italian coffee manufacturer, Medaglia d’Oro, Chef Antonia Lofaso will launch a recipe book at Little Italy FESTA! The book, Medaglia d’Oro Volume One, features innovative coffee-based recipes including dishes from America’s most recognized reality-television Italian chefs - Lofaso, Marco Canora and Johnny Iuzzini. Chef Lanofaso will demo recipes from her new book for attendees of the festival, take part in a ‘meet and greet’ with fans and make this year's event even more exciting! As Top Chef fans, we can't wait!

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 LIA.

The Little Italy FESTA! covers over 15 city-blocks, of course India Street in Little Italy being the center point for the celebration. Throughout the weekend certain streets will start closing beginning on Friday, 10/12 and remain closed until Sunday, 10/14 until 11:59pm. See the online schedule for more information.

A full schedule of event activities will be posted to www.littleitalyfestasd.com under “Entertainment”. For more information, visit the FESTA! website and Facebook page, and feel free to visit the LIA website and Facebook page to learn more about what's going on in Little Italy SD. See below for some insider tips on enjoying this year's FESTA! and scenes from year's past.

Insider tips for the FESTA!:

1) Check out the creation of the Gesso Italian chalk drawing as the artists get started on their works of art on Saturday, Oct. 13, 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 Italian dishes by some of the top Italian chefs.

3) Bring cash. Many of the vendor booths have reasonably priced Italian food such as calamari, arancini, meatballs, panini, pasta, 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. People watching from restaurant windows and patios is prime time during the FESTA!