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Eat and Drink Your Way Through Italy at Festa Italiana July 22-24, 2016

July 18, 2016 | News Release

Festa Italiana brings Italy to Milwaukee’s lakefront featuring Italian flag-throwers, food, culture, entertainment, attractions and Bartolotta fireworks every night!


 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 11, 2016… Festa Italiana, presented by Calypso Lemonades, brings a little piece of Italy to Milwaukee’s lakefront for the 39th annual Festa Italiana July 22-24, 2016.  Festival attendees can experience many Italian traditions including gondolas, bocce ball, a new piazza, food and entertainment, followed by the best and loudest Bartolotta Italian fireworks every evening!


Festa 2016 Highlights:

  • Back by popular demand are the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine!  (Sbanderatori dei Borghi e Sestieri Fiorentini).  The dynamic group of 16 will entertain audiences with a colorful show of choral exercises, music and flags symbolic of a historic Italian victory celebration!  Festa Italiana attendees can watch the Flag-Throwers of the Florentine perform throughout the Festa grounds, in the opening ceremony and weekend parades, during Sunday’s mass and procession, as well as in the T.J. Bartolotta Sports Court.  For a full schedule of performances visit:


  • Festa is excited to also bring back a replica of the famous Trevi Fountain (sponsored by Bartolotta Restaurant Group) found in Rome Italy to this year’s festival. “La Fontana di Trevi” dates back to 19 B.C. and is a wonderful example of Baroque art.  Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi – with your back to the fountain, throwing the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder – you will be ensured a return to Rome.  Newer stories say that throwing one coin means a return to Rome, a second coin leads to a new romance and a third coin leads to marriage.


  • New this year Festa has created an Italian Piazza, or city square, on the North end of the grounds. The open market experience will offer Italian art, food, history, Italian Cinema, religious artifacts and a Vintage Italian Photo Exhibit sponsored by Sendik’s.  This year, explore the region Umbria and visit the Pompeii Church Exhibit which was built by Milwaukee’s immigrant Italian’s as a tribute to the Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church.  Festa-goers can also discover where they are from at the Genealogy Exhibit.  By using resources available online and in private databases, guest can learn how to find more information on their Italian famiglia!


  • Paint and Sip Alfresco at Festa! You can’t fully enjoy Italy without appreciating art. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael all made their mark during the Italian Renaissance. Italian art is known all over the world and has produced many great painters, architects and sculptors. Arté Bar and Paint Lounge, of Wauwatosa, will be hosting its first ever Paint & Sip Lounge at Festa Saturday and Sunday in the Palermo’s Stage from 2-6 p.m.  Guests can create their own 8” x 8” Italian-themed masterpiece from one of two themed designs for $6.


  • Festa will be hosting the Vince Lombardi Walk/Run to Tackle Cancer Saturday, July 23. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.  Runners and walkers receive free admission into Festa and guest passes are available for $5 from 7:30 a.m. – Noon.  Visit to register today!


  • Tour the sights at Festa Italiana! Marvel at Festa’s replica of the famous Coliseum Display – the iconic symbol of imperial Rome, take a trip to the Marco Venetian Tower Display – representing the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica located in the Piazza San Marco in Venice’s principal public square, and get a picture with the Statue of David Replica – Michelangelo’s famous masterpiece.  Festa’s replica emulates the 17 feet tall original!


  • New food items guests can look forward to include: Divino Wine & Dine’s Wild Boar Ragu with Pasta; Trattoria di Carlo’s Bruschetta, Penne Alfredo with Matarocco, and Chicken Sausage Sandwich with Tomato Basil; and Cataldo’s Bruschetta Pork Sandwich, Meat and Cheese Platter and Ice Cream Puff, yum! Complete food menus can be downloaded at:



  • Pizza lovers will rejoice as pizza is a theme at this year’s festival. Scrima’s Pizza, out of Waukesha, will be serving pizza in their wood-fired oven from Italy, which is new this year.  Festa has not had a wood-fired pizza oven on the grounds for a few years now.  Also new Angelo’s Pizza is preparing handmade pizzas as well as Chicago style stuffed pizza – whole or by the slice.  Palermo’s Pizza is returning with their pizza truck selling a variety of pizzas.  Mangia Mangia!


  • Fun for the Whole Famiglia! Festa offers fun-filled activities and attractions for kids and adults to enjoy, including a FREE CARNIVAL, splash zone, LEGO activities tent, parade through the grounds Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 PM, and daily performances on the Children’s Stage. Children 12 and under are FREE all three days of Festa.


Music Headliners

  • Jackie Evancho (BMO Harris Pavilion July 24):  15-year old singing sensation, Jackie Evancho first dazzled American television audiences at age 10 gaining global recognition with her stunning debut on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.  Named runner-up, she was immediately signed by Columbia Records and has established herself as a force within the classical crossover genre.  Her unique, gorgeous, soprano voice has won her millions of fans all over the world.  Currently, Evancho is getting ready to release her 4th studio album.


Tickets for Jackie Evancho are on sale now and include Festa admission before and after the show.  Tickets can be purchased at the Marcus Amphitheater Box Office and online at Ticketmaster.comA ticket convenience fee will be added to all purchases

What do you get when you combine all the smash hit music of two great American classic rock artists BOSTON and STYX into one power-packed show?  The answer is BOSTYX, a completely unique act that performs the feel-good, highly-polished hit music which dominated radio in the 70s and 80s.  BOSTYX features lead vocalist and guitarist David Victor formerly of the actual multi-platinum band BOSTON and a spectacular lineup of LA’s finest professional musicians.  BOSTYX performs all the best-loved hits including “More Than a Feeling”, “Come Sail Away”, “Lady” and “Foreplay / Long Time” and also delves into deeper album cuts like STYX’s “Crystal Ball” and BOSTON’s “A Man I’ll Never Be”, a fan-favorite song that BOSTON has not performed live since the 1980s.


JOHN MICHAEL COPPOLA is best known for his appearance in Chicago’s Broadway smash hit, JERSEY BOYS. He has since gone on to create an irresistible concert of everyone’s favorite tunes from Sinatra to Springsteen and everyone in between, including artists such as Dion and the Belmonts, Michael Bublè, The Beatles, The Blues Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Queen to name a few.  Immediately following, the Midwest’s only tribute dedicated to recreating the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, THE FOUR C NOTES (created by Mr. Coppola) will take the stage.  Audiences at Festa can sing along with THE FOUR C NOTES to “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t’ Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and “Let’s Hang On,” to name a few favorites.  These are two shows not to be missed!


With over 25 years of international touring experience under their belts, Hotel California is the original Eagles tribute show in North America. The Eagles scored seven number one singles, six Grammy’s, five American Music Awards and six number one albums. They are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time…selling 150 million records. You’ll hear all of The Eagles hits, remarkably replicated, in this spectacular show at Festa Italiana!

One of Festa’s most popular acts, The Bronx Wanderers return all three nights!  A father and two sons living the American rock ‘n’ roll dream.  Captivating fans across the country, this returning Festa favorite delivers the best of America’s rock ‘n’ roll songbook, from the first generation right through the music of today. One part “oldies,” two parts rock ‘n’ roll, The Bronx Wanderers effortlessly create the perfect level of synergy between the generations of the music, the family and the rockin’ band that pulls it all together.


The Sicilian Tenors bring together three marvelous Tenor voices, each singing their own interpretation of the world’s best music in a recital format!  The Sicilian Tenors will take Festa audiences on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway to Italy with operatic tenor voices singing a wide variety of marvelous songs that America loves.  Combined with light-hearted fun, this is a concert for all ages to enjoy!


Making their debut at Festa, Will & Anthony Nunziata are the Brooklyn-born, classically trained singing and comedy brother duo who sing fresh takes of timeless songs from pop, adult contemporary music, Broadway, Italy and beyond.  Hailed as “a nearly impossible pairing of talent, stage presence and charisma,” Will & Anthony continue to win critical and popular acclaim for their concert performances throughout the United States and around the world.  Will & Anthony will be making their Carnegie Hall debut as the headlining artists alongside Broadway stars and recordings artists Liz & Ann Hampton Callaway with the New York Pops for their annual Holiday concerts on December 16 & 17, 2016.


Joe Scalissi, a Midwesterner of Italian heritage, is an internationally recognized entertainer, best            known for his tribute to Dean Martin.  Mr. Scalissi has garnered praise from countless audiences, talent scouts and agents across the country as perhaps the most authentic and accurate portrayal         of Dean Martin known today. With visual accuracy, and backed by the full-sounding twelve-piece   Encore Orchestra, a tuxedo-clad Scalissi pays homage to Dean Martin in a manner that is both fun and believable.  And when he sings “Mambo Italiano,” in Italian no less, the dynamism of Dino is          alive and well!


Michéal made a lasting impression on Festa-goers in 2013 and is now back in 2016!  Representing the living embodiment of authentic Italian culture for modern North Americans and a native of Calabria, Michéal is an accomplished pop-classical crossover singer of his native songs and a purveyor of his family-made, heirloom Italian luxury products in North America.


Festa Italiana is excited to welcome back The Florentine Opera as they perform each day at Festa!  The Florentine Opera, the sixth oldest professional opera company in America (and founded by John David Anello as the Italian Opera Chorus in 1933 in the Third Ward) will return to its roots by performing acts from two of Italian Operas greatest masterpieces – Act 4 of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto and Act 3 of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. A cast of some of this country’s leading young opera singers will be led by tenor Rodell Rosel, who in addition to performing regularly with the Florentine, has essayed featured roles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera.


  • Other acts include: The Russo Brothers, Doo-Wop Daddies, Tom Sorce, Noyz Boyz and Gyrlz and Tony Spavone!  Also, members of the UW Marching Band will perform a 5th Quarter Performance for Festa-goers on Saturday and Sunday!


Your Ticket to Italian Flavor

Eat your way through Italy at Festa Italiana!  Italian favorites will return including pizza, Italian sausage, arancini (rice ball), toasted ravioli, fried calamari, eggplant sticks, sfincione, spiedini, meatball sandwiches and sfingi!  Saving the best for last?  Festa is the place to satisfy your sweet tooth with cannoli, Italian cookies, cappuccino puffs and fresh gelato!


Calling all foodies….Festa’s popular Cucina Showcase will be host to a variety of food-related activities including cooking demonstrations from some of Milwaukee’s finest chefs, the popular Cannoli Contest on Saturday, July 23 at 3:30 p.m. and the Kid’s Pizza Making Contest (Ages 5-17) on Sunday, July 24 beginning at 3:00 p.m.  Don’t miss the Third Annual Chef’s Choice Recipe Contest on Sunday, July 24.  Organizers this year are accepting baked goods, including pie, cookies, cake or bread.  Contestants can bring their favorite baked good to the Cucina Showcase between 1-4 p.m. At approximately 6 p.m., a panel of judges, which includes Andrew Schneider with Le Reve Patisserie, Maria Sali with Peter Sciortino’s Bakery and Marilynn Mee with WKLH, will sample each entry in front of a live audience and the winner will receive the Golden Spoon Award!


Sipping also goes with eating!  Festivalgoers can enjoy some of Italy’s finest wines and wine tents throughout the grounds, provided by LoDuca Wines and Corvina Wine Company.  Wine coolers, wine cocktails and wine flights will also be available! In fact, you may also catch Tarantella dancing at the regional wine tent along the lakefront as an added bonus!  For wine selections and menus, please visit:


Festivalgoers can also enjoy Limoncello, Campari, Sambuca, Negroni cocktail and Bellini cocktails at the Limoncello Bar located in the Piazza!


Your Ticket to Fun – Italian Style!

The traditional Italian game of Bocce Ball will return daily with the highly anticipated Bocce Ball Tournament taking place on Sunday, July 24.  Take in Festa from the water’s view on a gondola ride and don’t miss the loudest Italian-style Bartolotta fireworks every night beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m.!  The Copa Festa Italiana Futsal tournament will return on Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. at the T.J. Bartolotta Sports Court and Italian Idol will crown its karaoke king or queen on Sunday, July 24!


Your Ticket to Italian Tradition

The traditional Festa Italiana Sunday Mass and Procession will be led by Father Michael Hammer at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, July 24 at the Marcus Amphitheater. The Mass is followed by a procession of societies and patron saints, concluded with benediction on the festival grounds.  Attendees are encouraged to bring three (3) non-perishable food items to be donated to Hunger Task Force to help the Milwaukee Ethnic Festivals reach their goal of collecting 160,000 pounds of food this summer under “The Fests Feed Milwaukee” initiative.


Daily Admission Information/Deals


Festa Italiana offers plenty of ways to visit the festival!   Purchase your advance tickets online today at through July 21 for a discounted rate of $10.00.


  • Admission tickets are $13.00 at the gate and children ages 12 and under are admitted free for all three days when accompanied by an adult.
  • Ride TaxiMKE to Festa for One (1) Free Festa Ticket! Get one free admission ticket to Festa when you take TaxiMKE to the grounds.  Make sure to visit the TaxiMKE booth on the grounds for other promotions!  Call 414-220-5000 or download the TaxiMKE app.


  • Gates open 11:30 a.m. – Midnight.
  • BOGO – Buy 1 Ticket Get 1 Free 2-7 P.M. Bring a friend to Festa and enjoy one free admission. Available at the gate only.
  • 11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. is VIP Day for those with physical challenges along with their caregivers. Receive free admission, half-price on two selected food items.  Advanced VIP ticket needed.  Please purchase tickets at the Italian Community Center.
  • Sendik’s Red Bag Promotion Noon – 6 P.M. All patrons arriving from Noon – 6 P.M. presenting a Sendik’s red shopping bag will receive one (1) FREE admission ticket.  Red bags will be collected upon enterance to the grounds at the main gate.
  • Goodwill Promotion 2 P.M. – 6 P.M. – A receipt from Goodwill stores allows for free entry from 2:00 – 6:00 P.M.
  • Receive a Catholic Financial Life knapsack beginning at 2:00 P.M. while supplies last.


  • Gates open 11:30 a.m. – Midnight.
  • Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation Walk/Run – 7:30 A.M. Walkers and runners receive free entry into Festa Italiana.  Guest passes are also available for $5 from 7:30 A.M. – Noon.
  • Sendik’s Red Bag Promotion Noon – 4 P.M. All patrons arriving from Noon – 4 P.M. presenting a Sendik’s red shopping bag will receive one (1) FREE admission ticket.  Red bags will be collected upon enterance to the grounds at the main gate.
  • Receive a Catholic Financial Life knapsack beginning at 11:30 A.M. while supplies last.



  • Gates open 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
  • 10:15 a.m. – Gates open for Festa Italiana Mass, please bring non-perishable food items to support Hunger Task Force
  • Day of Service: Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Teachers and Military receive free admission for the individual of service and one guest. To receive your free entry, present a vaild employee ID at the cashier window at the main gate.  Active and former military members and one guest can receive free entry with a valid military ID or DD-214 with valid ID at the cashier window at the main gate. 


Don’t miss Festa Italiana’s annual raffle!  Purchase tickets for a chance to win a first place cash prize of $5,000.  Costs for tickets are 7 for $10, 3 for $5 and 1 for $2.  Purchase on the Festa grounds or in advance at the Italian Community Center.


For more information on the festival, please visit


Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind Festa tradition! Purchase your advance ticket today for $10, now through July 21, at  For ticket questions, please call 414-223-2808.

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