Returning for its sixth year in Manchester, the popular Festa Italiana weekender returns this bank holiday weekend, with an epic line-up in-store for Italian food lovers. Be still, my carb-loving heart!
Confirmed to take over Cathedral Gardens over the August Bank Holiday weekend (August 25-27), the free-to-attend festival will celebrate all things Italy over the weekend, with some of the very best local restaurants and chefs participating in the occasion. A passion project dreamt up by Salvi’s owner Maurizio Cecco with the intention of bringing the Italian community of Manchester together as one, Festa Italiana takes in the very best in authentic food, drink, music, and performance.
Bringing back the slice of the Med that has gone down incredibly well over previous years, attendees will be able to soak up the sun (which will hopefully be in attendance) on the grass, while pottering around food trucks and canopies filled with Italian treats from Manchester’s best Italian street food vendors and restaurateurs. We’re talking seriously good grub from Salvi’s pop-up deli, proper pints of Poretti and more refreshing Italian beverages for those really feeling the sunshine vibes.
There are going to be some properly exciting newbies and surprises that are yet to be revealed, as the varied programme including workshops, demonstrations, signings and banquets from celebrity chefs and award-winning authors continues to evolve. Expect live musicians and performers as well as family-friendly activities such as pasta-making masterclasses all weekend by Carmela Sereno Hayes of Carmela’s Kitchen.
This year, the festival is mixing it up with brand-new additions to its much-loved programme, including Friday’s Festa Italiana Della Donna, a full day dedicated to outstanding female cooks including Cucina Con Sofia, Carmela’s Kitchen, Salvi’s head chef Valentina Ambrosino, and Claire and Maurizio’s daughter Sienna Cecco, as well as a grand dining experience, curated alongside Italian brewery heavyweight Birrifico Angelo Poretti.
On Saturday 26 August, there will be a masterclass and book signing from Italian cooking superstar and Parmigiano Reggiano’s UK brand ambassador, Gennaro Contaldo (Saturday Kitchen, Two Greedy Italians, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast). He is followed by TV star and restaurateur Giancarlo Caldesi (Returning to Tuscany, Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch), who will bring his Caldesi cookery school and endless charm to the Festa masses.
Bringing something new to Festa Italiana 2023, Birrificio Angelo Poretti is hosting the ultimate ticketed dining experience on Saturday 26 August. Festival goers can pull up a chair and enjoy a classic Italian menu from Salvi’s that has been curated to pair perfectly with Poretti and sip on the authentic Italian lager from Poretti’s iconic airstream.
Featuring Italian classics, including creamy pistachio cannoli and an authentic Neapolitan seasonal pasta, each dish will be accompanied by a refreshing glass of Poretti served from the brand’s signature carafe.
Sunday 27 August will see an encore masterclass from Gennaro, while Great British Bake Off 2021 winner, author, and proud Britalian, Giuseppe Dell’Anno will be offering his top tips on how to bake like a true Italian.
What is Festa Italiana without authentic fresh food, gathered from every corner of Italy? Firing up the authentic Neapolitan ovens will be local legends and traditional pizza-makers I Knead Pizza, alongside the award-winning and proved to perfection, Proove. For the first time ever, Festa will also welcome sustainable pizza champions Purezza who will challenge the preconceptions of authentic Italian food, delivering full of flavour, fully vegan pizza with gluten free options available.
Also joining the Festa will be The Pasta Factory, Sicilian specialists T’arricrii, and Cafè Cannoli and Prendi Il Biscotto with the sweet treats, in addition to luxury gelato parlour Grandpa Greene’s serving classic Italian ice-cream out of their signature truck – the full proceedings of which will go to the The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.
To wash it all down with, Italian brewery heavyweight Biriffico Angelo Poretti will be serving craft pints from its simply beautiful Poretti Piazza airstream, and with a dedicated bar this year, Birra Murano will be inviting Festa goers to take a moment to appreciate the magical atmosphere with a clean, crisp and refreshing Italian-style pilsner.
Festa fans will also be treated to a brand-new spritz bar serving a selection of authentic Italian aperativi, including summer hits Aperol Spritz, Campari Spritz, and Limoncello Spritz, with a surprise cocktail to keep things fresh.
Plus, the Salvi’s festival bar will be serving Italian craft beer, DOP-stamped wine, and, of course, glasses of Prosecco.
Maurizio said: “This year Festa Italiana is all about celebrating our huge Festa family. We’re delighted to introduce Friday’s Della Donna, and of course the very special Poretti Grande Tavola dining experience, which will gather diners around a huge table, transporting them straight to beautiful Naples.
“We have also prepared a feast of authentic Italian food, drink and entertainment, with fully vegan and gluten free options. Our menu is brimming with love and we can’t wait to welcome visitors from across the city into our little Italy right in the heart of Manchester.”
The festival, inspired by Manchester’s rich Italian heritage, will return this weekend (August 25 – 27), with thousands expected to attend to celebrate the wonder that is Italian culture.