Norton Street Italian Festa
Sydney’s Norton Street came to life for the 25th Norton Street Italian Festa. Visitors flocked to the iconic street in Leichhardt to make the most of the fun, food and festivities.
The Norton Street Italian Festa is the largest and longest running Italian festa in Australia and its latest rendition certainly did not disappoint.
With Norton Street closed to traffic, event organisers, workers and stall holders made their way there in the early hours of the morning to prepare for the big day ahead, transforming the strip into a grand Italian fair.
A major highlight of the 2011 festa was the event’s first ever wedding. The ‘An Italian Affair to Remember’ competition attracted many entries from couples wanting to tie the knot.
Winning couple, Elizabeth Giammona and John Stevanja, exchanged their vows at the ‘Marostica Castle’, which was specially built for the occasion at the Pioneers Memorial Park.
Elizabeth and John were married by civil wedding celebrant, Martin Moroney, in the presence of family, friends and the many festa visitors that were keen to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom.
They left the venue in a horse drawn carriage pulled by two beautiful white horses. The bridal party followed in a striking vehicle procession that included vehicles by iconic Italian car manufacturers, Ferrari and Maserati.
Also held at the Pioneers Memorial Park were two living chess matches, which took place on a giant black and white chessboard. The live players, all dressed in costume, re-enacted the famous Marostica Living Chess match that solved a dispute between two suitors 700 years ago.
According to legend, two noblemen were prepared to fight to the death for the love of the beautiful Taddeo Parisio in the Venetian village of Marostica.
Instead, the Lord of the Manor ordered that the battle be held as a living chess match.
Other events held at Norton Street’s Marostica Castle included traditional Italian dance performances and the ‘Ciao Spring/Summer Fashion Show’, which showcased some of the latest fashions from a number of boutiques in Sydney’s inner west.
At the Zafarelli Kitchen Pavilion in the Pioneers Memorial Park, the ‘Nonni in Cucina’ event once again drew in crowds, following successful demonstrations at the 2010 event.
Held to celebrate the newly established ‘Grandparents Day’, which fell on the same day as the festa, Nonni in Cucina invited Italian nonnas to be a part of the festivities by cooking their favourite regional dish on stage in front of a live audience who were then invited to taste the authentic Italian cuisine
Guest chef, Paolo Gatto, from Sicily and visiting chef, Luca D’Adamio, from Abruzzo, were on hand during the Nonni in Cucina cooking demonstrations, and they too provided several cooking demonstrations throughout the day.
On the main stage, it was an all singing and all dancing affair. The stage opened with the ‘Cantaré’ song contest heats at 11am. Throughout the day, visitors were also treated to performances by Maria Venuti, Shine Dance Academy, Natalie Colavito, Nikki Webster Dance Academy, LA Dance and Commedia dell’arte; before the stage came to a close with the ‘Cantaré’ finals.
Zarema Borreggine, 16, won the under 18 category, while Katrina Curll, 32, took out the senior category in the singing competition.
The festa was a true family affair, catering to visitors both young and old. For the festa’s younger visitors, performances by Australia’s biggest puppet company, Murphy’s Puppets, proved to be very popular.
An animal farm, rides, free face painting and Venetian mask making also gained much attention, as did the model car races, which made their festa debut this year.
Roving entertainers, talented musicians, mysterious masked intruders and a scattering of very Roman Legionnaires were to be found at every corner, turning heads as they made their way along Norton Street.
And, as can be expected with any true Italian celebration, food was another big part of the event. Food stalls remained busy throughout the day, with many serving traditional Italian fare – including fresh home made pasta created in front of onlookers, delicious wood fired pizzas and tasty Italian gourmet sausages to name a few.
To mark the event’s 25th anniversary, event organisers asked visitors to visit the ‘Hand Stand’ and make their mark by adding their hand print to the wall of colourful canvases. The final wall of hands was displayed in Leichhardt in December and all canvases were sold by silent auction.
Organisers have labelled this year’s event as the best yet and are looking forward to an even bigger and better event in 2012.
To see more photos from the day, visit www.facebook.com/italianicious.