The Daily Gamecock

Italian Festival 2015 sure to be 'molto bene'


Update: Citing inclement weather, the Italian Festival, set to run Oct. 3, was canceled and will not occur in 2015, according to WLTX. The next event will occur in 2016.

On Saturday, Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion Historic Grounds will be transformed into a corner of Italian culture. 

The Italian Festival, in its eighth year, began small. It originally was a way for Bella Italia Lodge 2808 members to increase awareness of Italian culture in the Columbia area.

“At the beginning, we only had three food vendors and a couple of merchandise vendors, but now it’s grown into a mainstay in the city of Columbia,” said Domenico Santoro, festival chairman.

With an expected turnout of thousands, the Italian Festival is now anything but small. And of course, the food is one of the most anticipated aspects.

“It’s classic Italian food, of course it’s going to be pizza by slice or the pie, pepperoni pizza, plain cheese pie, plain cheese slices,” Santoro said.

But there are plenty of choices when it comes to eating at the festival. A Sons of Italy food booth will be selling sausages, pizza and cannolis, and various vendors, such as Villa Tronco, DeLucca’s Italian Grill and Rita’s Italian Ice, will be selling specialty food items at the festival.

Besides food, there are more than enough activities to participate in throughout the festival. The bocce ball tournament — a classic Italian ball game — is the main event of the day, beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 5 p.m. Live entertainment will occur all day, from grape stomping and plays to dancing and live music. Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms will be performing most of the day, and a jazz band called Bonerama will play from 8 p.m. until 9:45 p.m.

Alison Saum, third-year exercise science student, is volunteering at the event.

“From opera to a bocce tournament to a Pinocchio play, there’s just so much going on, and the atmosphere is so lively,” Saum said. “I’ve mapped out that I can get a pint of gelato for eight [food] tickets.”

With snacks like that, the Italian Festival is not an event you want to miss. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public.