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The 89th annual Festa Italia returns to downtown Monterey Friday for three days of Italian food, music and culture celebrating Monterey’s Italian heritage.
The festival was established in 1933 when a statue of Santa Rosalia was donated to the San Carlos Cathedral. Sicilian fishermen and women prayed to Santa Rosalia for protection and a plentiful harvest. Now, the free festival honors Monterey’s Italian roots and passes on the community’s traditions to future generations.
Last year’s festival was canceled due to safety concerns over COVID-19, despite months of planning. This year’s event takes place Friday through Sunday at the Custom House Plaza in Monterey State Historic Park.
Mass will be held at San Carlos Cathedral at 10 a.m. Saturday. Opening ceremonies will follow for the traditional blessing of the fishing fleet and procession through downtown Monterey onto Fisherman’s Wharf.
Performances throughout the weekend will include Italian opera singers, accordion players and folk dancers. Pasquale Esposito, Dave Marzetti, Anthony Lane and Mike Marotta are just a few of the performers that will bring Italian music to the festival. The Money Band, the Tarantella Dancers of Monterey and the 831 ALLSTAR Band will also perform.
A bocce tournament will take place Saturday and Sunday at the bocce courts at the plaza.
Other family activities will include a bungee trampoline and inflatable water balls. The Euro Bungee will fling participants 25 feet into the air. For a more relaxing experience, the Bubble Fun Water Balls allow all ages to climb inside a 6-foot water ball and walk on water.
Food options available for purchase will include locally sourced Italian cuisine, such as calamari, steak and sausage sandwiches, pasta, cannoli and more. Beer, wine and other beverages will also be available for purchase, and an array of vendors will sell crafts, Italian goods and Festa Italia merchandise.
“We welcome the community to come and enjoy our free, family-friendly outdoor weekend event,” said Joe Cardinalli, president of the Festa Italia Board of Directors. “There’s something fun and entertaining for everyone.”
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