• Squeeze the lemon! Countdown to fantastic Festa Italiana

Squeeze the lemon! Countdown to fantastic Festa Italiana

5 July 2018 by Neil Sowerby

YOU too can be Italian for a whole weekend (July 13-15) when Festa Italiana Manchester returns to Cathedral Gardens bigger and better than last year’s triumphant debut event, whcih attracted more than 26,000 visitors.

Don’t believe us? Check out the final programme just released, which is all about the community coming together to socialise, enjoy beautiful food, delectable drinks and live music. Just like in the Old Country – and it’s free to get inI

Organised by authentic, family-run Italian restaurant Salvi’s, and Manchester’s wider Italian food community, the Festa is a chance to get a weekend-long dose of that Italian lifestyle. 

Think gorgeous gelato (main picture) wood-fired pizza, the perfect Prosecco, melt in the mouth prosciutto, extraordinary olives, fresh pasta, juicy porchetta, buffalo mozzarella, a fine Primitivo wine, artisan Limoncello, a refreshing Aperol Spritz and, of course…Nutella.

Alongside the bounty of beautiful food and drink this year there’ll be a big kids’ fest, long table banquets, a live cookery theatre and live music. Here’s the full programme, starting with the Festa’s amazing collab banquets:

Festa Feasts

The Festa Italiana Feasts are a programme of long table banquets happening throughout the weekend – one-off opportunities to experience the ultimate rustic, authentic, Italian feast in the heart of the city. 

The Italian Adventure 7:30pm, Friday 13, Festa Pavilion, £45 a head. This banquet will see the city’s finest Italian food brands collaborating for the first time to create the ultimate Italian dining experience. Salvi’s, San Carlo and Lupo Caffè Italiano will join forces to create a course each with a representative on hand to explain them. Guests will be welcomed with an Aperol Spritz drinks reception, followed by a four-course dinner showcasing the very best Italian ingredients, dishes and the cuisine style for which each brand is known. After-dinner digestif will come from Limoncello di Capri and Molinari Sambuca, while Italian music will be the soundtrack throughout from a Neapolitan four-piece band. 

All Feast profits will to the Cure for Florence campaign. Florence, four years old, from Stalybridge, is a family friend of the Salvi’s team, and was diagnosed with GM1 in December 2016. The condition is life limiting and this diagnosis has turned the family’s life upside down. The donations will go towards funding further research into finding a cure for GM1, increasing awareness about this condition and giving Florence the best quality of life possible. Buy tickets here.

Bottomless Bubbles Pizza Banquet 6.30pm, Saturday 14, Festa Pavilion, £25 a head. This banquet is a non-stop gourmet pizza feast with bottomless prosecco to boot (or soft drinks). Pizzas will be brought to the long banqueting tables, offering guests the chance to eat as much as they like. The Bottomless Banquet will run over a 90-minute session in the Festa Pavilion starting at 6:30. Buy ticketshere.

Italian Producers Market Featuring authentic and artisan food and drink producers from around Italy. 

Aperol Escape Expect hammocks, Vespa Seating and Foosball tables all creating a fabulous Italian drinking experience at the Festa. Naturally Aperol Spritz will be served up in abundance and there’ll be Aperol masterclasses too in the cookery theatre. 

Capri Spritz Bar  Limoncello Di Capri is the only real, certified and authentic Limoncello in the world and it’s coming to Manchester for the first time via Festa, where they will be serving up summer’s brand new cocktail at their own dedicated bar. The Capri Spritz is Limoncello mixed with premium tonic, topped with Prosecco and garnished with fresh mint and strawberries.

The main Festa bar will also serve a fabulous range of Italian gins, wines and vermouths. Plus there’ll be three famous beer brands all hosting bars and serving up some of their most exciting birras: 

Italian Craft Beer Bar by Poretti Introducing three new craft beers, Poretti 4, 5 and 6 and pairing with specially created small plate matches; Menabrea Bar Northern Italian brews from Italy’s oldest brewery; Peroni Serving their popular Italian lager as well as Peroni Ambra, which is infused with chinotto – a rare Italian citrus fruit – for a zesty, refreshing summer beer. 

Bambini Festa

Inspired by traditional festivals over in Italy, the Festa is all about the community and family coming together – therefore will be an amazing place for groups of all ages to spend the weekend, with a special child-friendly programme of activities scheduled throughout, all happening in the dedicated ‘Bambini Garden’ Events include:

Festa Circus House in Association with Play Factore The Circus House team will be performing and giving youngsters the chance to learn plate spinning and hula hoops, trapeze artistry and juggling. The Play Factore Circus House will be open from 3-5pm on Friday 13 and from 11am-5pm on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15. All activities are free to join in and children must be accompanied by an adult (the same applies to the pasta masterclasses below).

Bambini Cucina – Pasta Making with Carmela’s KitchenNorthants-based but with with Southern Italian roots, Carmela organises cookery events and has just published her latest book, A Passion for Pasta. That’s why her kids’ fresh pasta classes (with shapes!) are a must. 11am-2pm on Saturday 14 and 11am-12pm and 12pm-1pm on Sunday 15.

Family Friendly Festa Italian-inspired face painting and live music will all add to the fun for kids who want to get into the spirit of the Festa. There’ll be plenty of food and drink to choose from for little ones across the Festa site too including lots of fresh juice, pizza, pasta, ice cream, crepes and Nutella. The organiser’s own ‘Nonna’ will even be on site providing impromptu pasta making over the weekend too – literally learn how to create pasta just like mamma used to make.

Italian Wizardry Up Close – Live Cookery Theatre  Festival Pavilion, 11am-5pm Saturday 14-Sunday 15. Showcasing a host of Italian chefs from Manchester to Italy and beyond, including…

Gianfranco Iervolino: Coming over from Naples especially for the Festa, Gianfranco is one of the world’s most renowned pizza chefs and a regular on Italian TV & radio. He’s also known for his Neapolitan singing. He will be hosting a cookery demo and belting out a few of his favourite songs. 

Carlo Molon: Another Italian chef flying up for the Festival, Carlo is an exciting and influential cook, currently exec chef at the Sheraton Hotel on Lake Como. He’ll be bringing his modern and experimental twists on Italian flavours. 

Full Live Cookery Schedule

Saturday 14: 11am Carmela’s Kitchen; 12pm The Art of the Perfect Pizza by Mauro Altieri From Proove;  1.15pm Carmela’s Pasta Masterclass for Grown-Ups; 2.30pm Carlo Molon and Festa founder and Salvi’s owner Maurizio Cecco (pictured together) collaborate for a showcase of classic Italian cuisine; 4pm Aperol Spritz Masterclass. 

Sunday 15
11am and 12pm
Carmela’s Kitchen; 1.15pm Francesco Scafuri from Tre Ciccio Altrincham shows how to create potted beef and paté ravioli served in a porcini sauce; 2.30pm Gianfranco Iervolino demonstrates his favourite dishes and sings; 3.45pm Pasta Factory ravioli masterclass by Giulia Martinelli; 5pm Carlo Molon masterclass in contemporary Italian cuisine.

Festa Music Stage  

The Crazy Quartet (above), a fantastic four piece from Naples, will be flying over especially to perform at the Festa. 

Hetty and the Jazzato Band will be visiting from London for Festa and bringing a taste of the dolce vita with vintage, classic Italian songs, swing, jive & foot-tapping rock n' roll. 

Whoever and the Somethings will offer their mix of classic Motown and contemporary covers delivered by Michelle Harris’s stunning vocals.

Clint Boon, Inspiral Carpets legend and XS Radio Drive Time presenter, Clint will bring his Boon Army disco to the Festa with a set to celebrate the Festa’s Mancunian roots on the opening night.

The full programme outlined is taking place on Cathedral Gardens, the main Festa site, which is open from 11am-11pm. Free to enter, except for certain events, which are identified above. Check updates on the Festa website