This year, the annual celebration will take place across two editions, with Sunday’s event reviving Melbourne’s “Little Italy” after months of silence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The day kicked off with a few words from beloved comedian, James Liotta, followed by the Italian and Australian national anthems.

The Veneto Club Choir then took to the stage, with their voices casting a ray of light over a cloudy day.

As the day unfolded, crowds continued to flock to Piazza Italia, from nonni to groups of friends and children with their faces painted in the colours of Italy.

Bianca Latorre, who attended with her children and a friend, said the event was “a pleasant surprise”.

“We’d never participated in this event before, but we’ll certainly be back in the future,” she added.

There were also many familiar faces, including those who’ve never missed an edition in the history of the festival.

“Every year, we come to Piazza Italia to enjoy the festive atmosphere and beautiful Italian music,” the Guerreras said.

The Veneto Club Choir during their performance on the main stage

Many were enticed to the area by the aromas coming from the food stands, located beside the stage and showcasing a spread of Italian fare such as arancini, arrosticini, pizza, Parma ham and more.

Walking among the various stalls, it was almost like taking a virtual trip to Italy’s different regions, from Abruzzo to Sicily, Emilia-Romagna and Campania.

The Consul General of Italy in Melbourne, Pierluigi Trombetta, said the Melbourne Italian Festa encapsulates Italy’s unique lifestyle and culture.

“Italian cuisine, fashion, design and cars are known all over the world for their efficiency and attention to detail,” he added.

The Made in Italy brand was certainly well represented at the event, particularly with the Italian Auto Icons display that featured classic Italian car brands like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Fiat and Ferrari, to name a few.

Throughout the day, festivalgoers enjoyed cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, while the VIP pavilion hosted the True Italian Taste – Pizza and Beer Masterclass, organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) in Melbourne.

The masterclass saw 400 Gradi founder, Johnny Di Francesco, share the secret to the perfect pizza dough.

The festa lured people out of their homes and onto Lygon Street once again, marking a return to community celebrations and social events.

President of the ICCI in Melbourne, Luca Scribani Rossi, aptly summed up the sentiment on the day:

“This year, the Melbourne Italian Festa celebrates the resumption of life and the reopening of businesses – something which we’ve missed very much in the last 12 months.”