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Festa Italiana 2022 Syracuse’s Italian Celebration

The word “celebrate” derives from the Latin, “celeber,” meaning “frequented,” or “honored.” Synonyms include commemorate, observe, honor, mark, salute, and recognize, as well as praise, laud, and extol.

What a great word!

And few things do as much to “celebrate” a cultural heritage than a festival, open to anyone and everyone, designed to share the most beloved and entertaining elements of that culture.

Now in its 24th year, the Festa Italiana is a yearly pilgrimage for Central New Yorkers of all ages. There’s something that everyone, from toddler to teen to any and every age on up, to enjoy. Founders Ginnie Lostumbo and Linda DeFrancisco originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise money for an Italian Community Center, but as they and the Board considered it, they eventually chose to use the festival to raise funds for a number of worthy charitable activities in town – making it both “Italian” in style, and universal in attraction. In 2021, the recipients included:

  • Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen
  • David’s Refuge
  • Road to Emmaus Ministry of Syracuse
  • St. Lucy’s Food Pantry
  • The Crunch Foundation
  • United Way of Central New York
  • Vera House

As with most cultural festivals, the Festa Italiana features food – and Italian cuisine has been, without a doubt, one of the most popular foods brought from the Old World to the New. Along with all your favorite food vendors from years past, Vito’s Restorante, Big MaMa’s Cheesecake (with cannoli cheesecake and ricotta cheesecake on the menu) and the John Venditti Post will be offering their special Italian treats. 

Stop by the Fayette Street Stage to watch the Celebrity Meatball Challenge. The winner chooses a charity to receive a $500 donation in honor of the biggest appetite in town!

Or perhaps Bocce is your special talent? You and your team (men’s, women’s, and mixed) can win a team first prize of $240, second of $200, and third of $140 – and if you enter early your application fee is reduced $20 (from $80 to $60). Find your entry forms on the website.

But if you’re like me, you’re going to want to stroll around sampling the delicious foods and enjoy the entertainment. And this year, both the Main Stage and the Small Stage on Fayette Street will be packed with entertainment – the small stage beginning at noon on Friday and Sunday, and 11am on Saturday, and continuing on into the evening hours. Strolling musicians will carry that special “Italian sound” throughout the festival grounds with the mandolin, accordion, and vocals accompanying your visit. And of course Jeff the Magic Man will take the Small Stage at 1pm on Saturday to delight the children (and the child in all of us)!

In the Atrium at City Hall Commons you will find the Heritage Display – and this is something you must promise yourself not to miss!  From Italian Opera to food demonstrations to tracing your Italian roots, this is a part of the fest you won’t want to miss. Take some time to stroll through the venue, taking a peek back in history at the people and places that brought bits of Italy to live in Syracuse. Here’s the lineup:


In the Atrium next to City Hall


  • 6:00 pm Italian Bingo


  • 12 Noon Italian Bingo
  • 1:00 pm Laura Hand: Tracing your Italian Roots
  • 2:00 pm Lucille Procopio: Making Italian Delicacies
  • 3:00 pm Syracuse Opera: Performing Italian Arias
  • 4:00 pm Cooking Italian With Joe: Dr. Joe Borio making ricotta gnocchi
  • 5:00 pm Speach Candy Co.: Michael Speach talks about a 102 year old family business

        (free samples)

  • 6:00 pm Italian Bingo


  • 1:00 pm Italian Bingo
  • 2:00 pm Jim Battaglia: Making Orange/Limoncello & 
  • How to make wine from the grape to table
  • 3:00 pm Ed Gasparini: Presenting Italian Meats with Complementing Italian Style Cheeses

          (free samples)

And since our theme is “celebrate,” what better way to begin Sunday’s events than an open-air celebration of the Mass, in Italian, by Bishop Lucia and Father Caruso of Our Lady of Pompeii/ St. Peter’s Church, Sunday, at 11 am.

And what is any celebration without the people who make it all happen – the volunteers (if you see them in their red Festa shirts, say “hi” and “thanks” for their long hours of devoted work); the entertainers and experts; the cooks, servers, organizers; and of course, all of your friends, neighbors and co-workers who come out to support this beloved Syracuse tradition.

Festeggiare, Syracuse!

  • Friday September 16 11am – 11pm
  • Saturday September 17 11am – 11pm
  • Sunday September 18 Noon – 7pm

In front of City Hall, Downtown Syracuse


Nancy Roberts