Twentieth Anniversary Festa in Little Italy

Festa in Little Italy, San Diego, Italian culture, Italian heritage, Italian american, Italian news, Italian traditions

I Madonnari, the Italian street painting at the San Diego Little Italy Festa


San Diego’s Little Italy Festa began its Twentieth Anniversary on Friday, October 10th with a vintage Italian poster exhibition at Meyer Fine Art Inc., and ended with the Festa’s Bocce Ball Tournament on Sunday October 12th.  
Between these celebration’s activities ranged from shopping at Little Italy’s Mercato on Saturday, through its Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk) on the streets of West Date Street. A traditional Stickball Exhibition Game and Bocce Tournament were also included in the festivities on Sunday. Visitors were also able to visit the many Italian restaurants and booths, which offered special prices for the event.
 Chalk artist Cecelia Linayao

 Chalk artist Cecelia Linayao

At this year’s FESTA, spectators were eagerly expecting the stickball tradition which began at 10am on India Street between A and W. Ash Streets, just to the south of the FESTA footprint. Everyone felt the excitement as balls bounced off buildings and parking meters, keeping everyone on their toes, and on the lookout for flying balls.
The street game is very closely related to actual baseball, and is usually formed as a pick-up game played in the larger cities of the Northeastern United States, especially New York City and Philadelphia. The equipment consists of a broom handle and a rubber ball, typically a Spaldeen ball. The rules come from baseball and are modified to fit the street scene. For example, a manhole cover is used as a base, and certain buildings for foul lines. The game is a very much like stick and ball games widely popular among youths growing up from the 19th century until the 1980s.
The Festa’s Gesso Italiano was presented by Mossy Fiat and the chalk used for the street artwork was sponsored by the neighborhood’s Blick Art Materials store. According to some of the old-timers who attend this event regularly, “it attracts more than 120,000 each year.” This year’s special event was designed to honor the FESTA’s 20th Anniversary. Several artists were working together to create a collaborative, oversized (20′x30′) chalk art piece depicting the Virgin Mary in stained glass, from Duomo di Milano.  


Veteran Gesso Italiano artist, Cecilia Linayao was responsible for coordination of the multiple-artist piece. Participants of the event were given: an event T-Shirt, simple breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, snacks and water throughout the day, designated free parking and chalk for their use in creating their art pieces.
Back by popular demand, Oh What a Night, a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was performed at 3:15pm on the Francis Ford Coppola Winery Rosso & Bianco Stage. This was a classic performance looking back at much of the music of its time, coupled with the best of the hit Broadway Musical, Jersey Boys with Frankie Valli’s classic songs. Coppola Wines and Ballast Point Brewing Company, located on W. Cedar and India Streets were sponsors of this year’s wine and beer garden.
Serata Al Cinema (night at the movies) featured an all-time favorite Italian movie, Mediterraneo. The movie won best Foreign Language Film Academy Award in 1992. It is about an Italian platoon of undisciplined Italian soldiers who arrive on a small Greek island. Here not only are they forgotten, but they soon forget their intent on promoting a new world order of Fascism, and slowly blend into the casual atmosphere of the island. The film is in Italian with English subtitles.
Cinema Little Italy devotes its efforts to sharing a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of Italian culture through the world of Cinema. Films are shown outdoors all summer, in Little Italy’s Amici Park, and then shown in the Convivio Center for additional screenings.  For more information, readers can go to All proceeds raised benefit the Little Italy Association of San Diego, a non-profit 501(c)(3).

Receive More Stories Like This In Your Inbox



Orietta Gianjorio

Passionate Italian taster brings knowledge to consumers

“I am most passionate about bringing my knowledge [of tasting] to consumers, “said an enthusiastic Orietta Gianjorio, a native Italian from Rome,...
Jim-Cardinale Hill

Working to Keep Italian Culture Together

Coordinating the 46th Annual Columbus Day Grand ball, spending time with donors and other Ferragosto 2015 Committee members, and acting as President...
John Asaro at the Meyer Art Gallery

A Big Grazie to artist John Asaro!

John Asaro, a native Californian of Sicilian descent has a special place in his heart for Little Italy’s Piazza Famiglia, so much so that he will be...
Paola Bonacina Benzoni in her own design firm

Italian architect brings her signature style to San Diego

Approximately 20 years ago, Paola Bonacina Benzoni, and her husband left Italy when he came to work at the University of California at San Diego on a...
Joe Busalacchi inspecting addition to Zucchero Restaurant

Sicilian Son Follows Father’s Footsteps

Taking on a bold and daring adventure, Pietro Busalacchi and wife Cristina immigrated to San Diego with their 7 children, Anna, Tony, Sal, Frank and...

Weekly in Italian

Recent Issues