Fill your senses with la dolce vita Italy and meatballs at the 10th annual Festa Italiana, stretching along Taylor Street in our city’s Little Italy neighborhood on August 13-16.
Longtime family-owned restaurants and neighborhood newcomers will serve up some of the best food in the city. Italian and Italian-American singers will perform American and Italian classics. An Italian dance ensemble will perform and teach the tarantella, a well-loved Italian folk dance performed at Italian weddings. Fest-goers will have the opportunity to play Italian card games, compete in contests to see who can consume the most meatballs and cannoli (of course, not at the same time!), and buy Italian-themed art, Christmas ornaments and other merchandises.
The Fest will also offer trolley tours of Little Italy, Chicago’s oldest Italian neighborhood, which was a gateway for thousands of immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century.
On Sunday, August 16, a tradition the immigrants brought with them from Italy will be re-enacted with a procession from the storied Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii to the Festa Italiana event site. A traditional Italian marching band will lead flag-bearers and worshipers from the 11 a.m. mass through the streets of the neighborhood, up Taylor Street to the Rosebud Stage for a short enactment of centuries-old Italian songs.
Festa Italiana will be held on Thursday, August 13, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, August 14, noon – 11 p.m.; Saturday, August 15, noon – 11 p.m.; and Sunday, August 16, noon – 10 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 is greatly appreciated.
The Little Italy neighborhood is a living legacy of Chicago’s immigrant past. Here food is culture and history remains engrained in stone — from the humble halls of the original settlement homes at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum to the vaulted ceilings of The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii.
On Taylor Street, from Morgan Street west to Ashland Avenue, you’ll find restaurants that span generations. Pizza and pasta reign supreme here, but other specialty spots have a calling of their own, including: Mario’s Italian Ice (a curbside stand shelling out shaved ice since the ‘50s) and Al’s Beef (a curbside stand turned popular chain) as well as nearby Maxwell Street Market (where discount shoppers can score tasty street food and the famed Polish sausage).
More recently, ambitious up-and-comers have been bringing new flavors to the dining scene. Fueling this renaissance in Little Italy are its Near West Side neighbors of University Village, Tri-Taylor and the medical district — growing areas made up of diverse groups of students and professional who live, work, eat and play here.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii is a holy place of pilgrimage consecrated to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary. The Rosary celebrates the mysteries of Christ’s life, whose incarnation, death and resurrection are the heart of the Shrine’s ministry and our sacred link to salvation. The portrait of Our Lady of Pompeii illustrates the rosary as Mary’s gift to the Church, just as the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii is the gift of the Italian-American community to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The Shrine is a center of hospitality, evangelization and spiritual growth, founded in the Italian tradition and culture. Located in Chicago’s Near West Side, with its rich cultural diversity, the Shrine stands as a testimony to the faith and generosity of our ancestors and continues to embrace all pilgrims of faith.