Food & Drink

5 Ways Italians Shaped Manchester 🇮🇹

Festa Italiana organisers explain that the Italian heritage in Manchester has deep roots, has helped shaped some fabulous elements of its culture and is here to stay! All this is celebrated at this Summer’s Festa Italiana…

Festa Italiana Manchester is the country’s most exciting and vibrant festival of Italian food, drink and culture. It is a free, weekend-long celebration of all things Italian taking place from 13th to 15th July.  Fabulous urban greenspace, Cathedral Gardens will be transformed into ‘Little Italy’ for the weekend, creating a city centre oasis of ‘la dolce vita’!

Inspired by Manchester’s Italian heritage, as well as the traditional festivals in Italy, the Festa is all about the community coming together to socialise, enjoy beautiful food, delectable drinks and live music.

Following an incredible debut festival in 2017, which saw over 26,000 people descend on the event, this year is all set to be bigger and even better with stacks of new activity planned.

So, why an Italian Festival in Manchester?

Manchester’s strong Italian cultural heritage is undeniable. The wealth of Italian restaurants alone bears witness to the lasting impact that Italians have had on our cultural identity, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The large Italian community in the city today dates back to the late 19th century, when migrant workers from rural Italy settled in Ancoats, which came to be known as Manchester’s ‘Little Italy’. Although that’s where the majority of the city’s Italian, cultural heritage begins, the city’s Italian roots go back even further, kicked off by the Romans.

Here’s FIVE Ways Italians Have Shaped Manchester…

Mamucium – The Romans Are The First Mancunians 🏛
Manchester’s very incarnation was as Mamucium – A Roman Fort built in AD 78. The fort grew into a civilian settlement and at the time would have been very cosmopolitan with merchants and soldiers drawn from all corners of the Roman Empire. There were houses, a hotel and a temple. Our first metropolis was created by the Italians!

Ice Cream Cones Were Invented Here 🍦
The migrant workers who came over from Italy in the mid to late 19th century and settled in Ancoats, became the pioneers of the British ice cream industry. Street vendors sold ‘penny licks’, which were sold and licked directly out of small glass bowls. These were rinsed out and used for the next customer. This unsurprisingly raised health concerns until Antonio Valvona, Ancoats ice cream seller created the edible, wafer cone, saving the industry!

Italian Detective Became Manchester’s Most Famous Victorian Copper 🕵
Famous detective, Jerome Caminada, who was born in Deansgate to an Italian immigrant father, became the North’s most successful detective of the Victorian period. He was responsible for catching 1,125 criminals over the course of his career and some say he was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Ancoats Had Its Very Own Elvis 🕺
Little Italy became known for its street entertainers and musicians, with around a third of Italians living in the city working as street musicians at the turn of the 20th century. Neapolitan music revived this grey, industrial area of Manchester. One performer, Domenico Rea, a self-taught accordionist who played, sung and danced at the same time. He was known as Ancoats’ own ‘Rudolph Valentino’ and today remembered as the ‘Elvis of Ancoats’.

Manchester United Is Partially Down To One Italian Ice Cream Seller ⚽
Louis Rocca, son of an Italian immigrant and Ancoats ice cream seller, played an integral role in making Manchester United the club it is today. He started working at the club as a boy and worked his way up to chief scout. It was he who suggested the name ‘Manchester United’ and also put the club in contact with Matt Busby who went on to manage the club for 25 years.

The Festival Piazza on Cathedral Gardens is FREE to attend and open from 11am-11pm daily from 13-15th July.

It will feature live Italian cookery demonstrations, masterclasses, long table banquets, street food, products market, a kids zone, live music and more!

Full information and updates can be found HERE