ITALIAN CONNECTION: Julie de Nardi points out the sister-city connection between Lismore and Conegliano in Italy. A tree is to be planted this month in Spinks Park in recognition of that link.
ITALIAN CONNECTION: Julie de Nardi points out the sister-city connection between Lismore and Conegliano in Italy. A tree is to be planted this month in Spinks Park in recognition of that link.

Mamma mia: Celebrate the Italian way at Friendship Festival

LISMORE'S 2018 Friendship Festival - Piazza in the Park - invites all-comers to enjoy a taste of Italy for a day with a twist of humour, fellowship and involvement in arts and leisure activities.

They'll also take part in conspicuous consumption of authentic Italian delicacies from Prosecco to pasta, pizza, risotto, gelato, classic desserts and great coffee.

The festival day on Sunday June 24, from 10am to 3pm, will be a dynamic outdoor celebration in the city's CBD and is an integral part of a weekend packed with excitement that includes the Lismore Lantern Parade on Saturday night.

Spinks Park on Sunday comes alive with typical piazza-themed activities, while CBD cafes take on the Italian theme.

Organising committee member Dr Ros Derrett helped initiate the event, now in its third year, which attracts about 3500 festival-goers.

She can't claim Italian heritage, but works as a volunteer with an Italian day club for seniors.

"I'm interested in what sort of a lifestyle they've had," Ros said. "It's influenced us since Roman times.

"In this district we had two significant waves of migration. Italians have made a great contribution and the festival is celebrating that.

"We're looking to build up our knowledge of the Italians who settled here.

"We are embarking on a three-year history project inviting Italian settlers and their descendants to indicate on a series of maps where their families came from in Italy and where they settled in the region on their arrival.

"This is in conjunction with the regional museum and St Carthage's Community Care Senior Italian Day Club. We expect a book to come from this."

At Piazza in the Park, entertainment will include the Curly Cousins - who bring fun and love of music and movement for young people in performance and workshops - and Domenico and the Latin Mafia Band.

"The tug of war was extraordinarily popular last year," Ros said.

"We've got bikes and cars of Italian make, whether vintage or contemporary.

"Antonio Mazzella from the Commedia Academy of Australia draws inspiration from the Italian mask comedy form known as commedia dell'arte.

"Whether directing theatre performances, performing for schools, conducting workshops for students and the community or creating giant carnival floats, his passion is to promote this hilarious Italian art form in Australia and beyond.

"Bring your own masks and costumes to link the old and the new through the novelty of theatre sports."

The Friendship Festival celebrates the region's Italian heritage through classic music, dance, food and wine, games like bocce, and merchandise stalls.

"We see it as a boutique event, it's not a big site," Ros said.

"There's lots of food, wine and Italian flavours. The most favourite dish in Australia is spaghetti bolognese.

"Any money that we raise is to keep the event free."


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