As festa season in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to unfold, Italians, Italian-Americans and Italophiles are gathering to gorge on all the Italianità they can get their hands on. From Sacramento to San Jose, and from Stockton to San Francisco, there is no shortage of Italian celebrations this summer.
Down in San Jose, known more these days for its Silicon Valley connections than its connections to the Italian Community, the Italian American Heritage Foundation is once again reminding everyone exactly who settled the area, and on whose former farms all those tech buildings are now located.
Guadalupe River Park and Gardens—adjacent to Little Italy San Jose at Julian and St. John Streets—is once again the venue for this year’s Italian Family Festa. The two-day celebration runs on Saturday, August 24th from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and again on Sunday, August 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And the best part is that admission is free.
For thirty-three years, the Italian Family Festa has been bringing the best of la vita dolce Italiana to the South Bay. Last year, over 35,000 people stopped by to enjoy the food, entertainment, and Italian crafts.
The Italian Family Festa is sponsored by the Italian American Heritage Foundation (IAHF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All proceeds from the festa help maintain and promote Italian history in the Santa Clara Valley area, and allow the IAHF to continue and enhance their scholarship program.
Italian-themed activities are available throughout the festa. Bocce—the most popular attraction by far—provides both old-timers and newbies an opportunity to show their skills at this quintessential, old-school Italian sport.
For those who enjoy a good glass of wine (and who doesn’t), the Giardino di Vino in the Piazza Piccola Italia is just what the doctor ordered. There is no better place to imbibe than a serene piazza with arbors intertwined with olive and lemon trees, a burst of flowers, live music, and a beautiful Italian fountain. Some of the featured wines come from the Bruzzone Family Vineyard, Frutino Winery, Perrucci Family Vineyard, Rosa D’Oro Vineyards, and Guglielmo Winery.
Speaking of Guglielmo Winery, they are also the sponsors of the Grape Stomp. In true I Love Lucy style, two-person teams will make a big mess stomping grapes the traditional Italian way. Stompers will stand in a barrel full of grapes and crush out the juice using their bare feet. A “swabby” will stand below the barrel to keep the juices flowing into the jug. Winners of the Grape Stomp will not only receive a bottle of Guglielmo wine, but their purple-stained toes will be pampered by a pedicure courtesy of Avalon Salon.
And what Italian festa would be complete without food, food, and more food? The usual assortment of Italian standards will be offered, as well as Italian cooking demonstrations, which provide an opportunity to sample new food, learn from old Italian cooks, and even explain to the experts how your nonna made her lasagna.
Entertainment will be provided all day long on both Saturday and Sunday. For a full schedule of events, visit the Italian American Heritage Foundation San Jose website at: www.ItalianFamilyFestaSJ.org/home/schedule-of-events.