Tastes of Italy descend on Coast for two-day festival

31 Mar

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By Clint Stephens, Bond University Journalism Student

Wet weather didn’t stop the organisers of The Gold Coast’s first Italian Festival declaring it a success.

            Sunday night’s closing performance had a smaller crowd than anticipated, as the majority of the crowd fled to find shelter from the rain pouring down on the mostly uncovered venue.

            Staff said they were happy however with the turnout for the inaugural event.

            This year marks the festival’s first on the Coast after a decade in Brisbane.

            Festival producer Alessandro Sorbello, who has been in charge of the event since its inception 10 years ago, said it was the right time to expand.

            “We decided to come down here and present the Gold Coast with this festival,” said Mr Sorbello.

            “It is about the celebration of Italian culture in the modern context and the influence of Italian culture in Australia, especially in south east Queensland where we have 100,000 people of Italian descent.”

Held over two days on the Easter long weekend, and spanning the length of Broadbeach’s Pratten Park, the festival featured a line up of vendors selling authentic Italian food and gelato, and wines from regional Italian vineyards.

Restaurateurs from Brisbane who travelled down for the weekend joined staff from Broadbeach’s own Gemelli Italian to offer ‘nonna’s homemade style’ gnocchi, cannelloni, and wood fired pizzas.

Guests were also treated to performances from traditional Italian opera singers and dancers, and even got up close and personal with some of Italy’s most sought after exports: fast cars.

Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and even imported vintage Ducati motorbikes were brought into the park for the event.

            Some patrons were deterred by the $7 entry price, but not Surfers Paradise resident Ashleigh Carter, who said the atmosphere at the event was very warm and welcoming.

            “I came down on Saturday and had so much fun I returned on Sunday and brought my friends,” she said.

            “Italian people are really so welcoming and warm, everybody here is so approachable.”

            A warm Saturday brought the crowds in, but Sunday evening’s rainstorms left only a handful of attendees left to see Italian Australian singer Alfred Malabello take the stage.

Organisers weren’t bothered however.

“We had a successful long weekend, even though we had challenges with the weather, but we pulled it off and people were very happy,” said Mr Sorbello.

“We hope to make it an annual event over the Easter long weekend, so come see us next year.”

            Brisbane’s Italian Festival, part of Brisbane’s Italian Week celebrations, is on May 29 in Newfarm Park. For more and info and tickets head to http://www.italianweek.com.au.

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