Festa Italiana 2022

If you had an incredible Neapolitan pizza in one hand and a tangy Limoncello spritz in the other, nodding along to “We No Speak Americano” under the bank holiday weekend sun, then you must have been at Festa Italiana along with Tom, Hannah and me, Evelina, from the Sundae press and social teams.

Entering the grounds of the UK’s biggest Italian festival felt like a spontaneous trip to Italy and it was our mission to take all Festa social media followers and members of the Manchester press along for the ride! From authentic Italian street food and drink, to traditional music and dance sessions, live cooking demos and pasta-making classes, Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens were transformed into a lively Festival Piazza.

Brought to you by the team behind Manchester’s family run favourite Salvi’s, Festa Italiana is now in its fifth year! It is inspired by the city’s very own Italian community and traditional Italian festivals (with a healthy sprinkling of Mancunian charm), and caters to everyone looking to experience the best of Italy on their doorstep.

We got to sharpen our cooking skills thanks to some of the Maestri of Italian cuisine who performed a culinary spectacle for the awestruck crowds. Fronted by Salvi’s owner and Festa head honcho Maurizio Cecco, accompanied by daughter-in-chef, Sienna, the live cookery demos featured free classes from legendary chefs Gennaro Contaldo, Giancarlo Caldesi and Aldo Zilli, leaving no belly rumbling and no parmesan ungrated.

While Aldo reminisced about locking Prince Edward in his restaurant back in his “heyday” (and performed a demo of cooking fish the Italian way), Great British Bake Off 2021 winner and ex-engineer Giuseppe Dell’Anno led those of all abilities through the precise science of baking!.

Food was the heart of it all, and many smiling Festa-goers even received an impromptu live performance by celebrity chef Gennaro Contaldo, alongside Italian band Compagnia SoleLuna on the festival’s main stage!.

The crowd of happy faces radiated togetherness. We welcomed members of the press and content creators to Manchester’s “Little Italy” for a chance to immerse themselves in the spirit of Italian celebration. Calorosa, as singer Lina described it – a hearty atmosphere, spreading through the thousands of people enjoying themselves on the festival grounds. 

The most curious faces were next to a big table under the shade of the trees, where pastaia (aka: pasta-making specialist) Carmela Sereno Hayes taught the smallest of cooks how to make their very own pasta from scratch. 

“It’s the easiest thing ever!” says Maurizio, while we sweat over a piece of farfalle and the children at Gennaro Contaldo’s masterclass folded a batch of ravioli. 

Carmela and Maurizio also cooked up the magnifico feast for the exclusive chef table dinner, which hosted Festa’s special guests over hearty authentic meals, served over the finest Italian wines in conversation with the award-winning authors and chefs. Hearts and bellies were filled. 

The Festa stage showcased a variety of performers, lifting the crowd off their feet and into the spirit of Italian celebration. People spun in circles holding hands, while children and adults alike learned how to perform traditional Italian dances. 

If you ever wondered why the festival spans over three days, then the answer is: So you have enough time to eat all the cannoli, arancini, gelato, pizza, pasta and the rest of the mouth-watering authentic Italian food the festival has to offer (including a few giant cheese wheels)! 

We love working on the Festa Italiana! Apart from enjoying a well-deserved cacio e pepe, we secured lots of brilliant pieces of national and regional coverage over a spread of online, print and broadcast media outlets such as The i, BBC Radio Manchester, iNews, Manchester Evening News, Time Out, Creative Tourist, Manchester’s Finest, The Manc, About Manchester,  and many more! 

Leading our social media campaign with live updates of all the exciting moments on the grid and stories, collaborations with the chefs and vendors and capturing the Festa spirit on Reels, we managed to reach over 200k accounts over all social media channels, cooking up a storm of positive engagement and hundreds of new followers!

In the words of none other than Gennaro Contaldo himself,meravigliosa”! 

(translation: marvellous)


Evelina x



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