Off Campus

Festa Italiana celebrates the tastes and sights of Italy

Syracuse Festa Italiana celebrates food, culture

Hundreds gathered in downtown Syracuse to celebrate the 25th annual Italian celebration.

Live music rings through downtown at Festa Italiana last Friday in Downtown Syracuse, NY. Photo by Matt Hofmann.
Matt Hofmann
Live music rings through downtown Syracuse at Festa Italiana last Friday.

The scent of pizza, lasagna and cannoli travel through the air as hundreds of people filled the street in front of Syracuse City Hall. The local horn band Brass Inc. played pop classics like “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus and “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.   

September 15 marked the start of Festa Italiana, a three-day festival that celebrates Italian culture and cuisine. This year marks the event’s 25th anniversary, and vendors and organizers wanted to make sure everyone felt at home, from long-time participants to first-time attendees.  

Festival president Ginnie Lostumbo has organized the event every year since its conception in the late 90s. Her favorite part of being involved has been watching the festival grow over time.  

“I have 200 volunteers, they’re like all my family,” she said. “I love to see them and the people. It’s great.” 

Along with musical performances throughout the day, the downtown streets were lined with merchandise stands and food from old and new vendors alike.

Three vendors were commemorated for their commitment to the festival over the last 25 years. Biscotti Café, Pascarella’s Bakery and Catering and the Villa Pizze Fritte received certificates for their continued involvement.   

Geoff Camire, co-owner of Biscotti Café, said one detail he loves about being a part of the festival for so many years is seeing the growth of his café. As his own business grew, he also witnessed the expansion of Festa Italiana each year. 

“We started off with a little five-foot showcase and now we have 15 feet of showcases bringing down 18 different items,” Camire said. The shop was founded in 1998, the same year Festa Italiana began. 

Workers from the Italian café and pastry shop started preparing their tents and setting out food at 9:00 a.m., two hours before the festivities opened up to the public. As the day went on, the line for the eatery grew longer and started to cross over into lines at other vendors.  

Camire doesn’t mind the busy schedule and crowded lines of Festa Italiana because it brings happiness to attendees and business to local, Italian owned companies. According to the Camire, cannoli , gelato and lobster tail were a few of the fan favorites throughout the weekend.  

“The festival brings out the community and family,” he said. Whether it’s the food, the drinks or the music, there’s something for everyone at Festa Italiana. 

“I want the people to know everyone’s Italian this weekend,” Lostumbo said.

The celebration concluded on Sunday.

People dance to a band at Festa Italiana in Syracuse, NY.
Matt Hofmann
People dance to a band at Festa Italiana in downtown Syracuse.