Experience La Dolce Vita at Bedford’s Italian festival


A celebration of Bedford’s Italian community will take place throughout the town centre on Sunday 21 July, giving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in La Dolce Vita.

From 12 noon until 5pm, there will be Italian food and drink, music, entertainment and plenty of iconic cars.

Bedford is famous for its Italian community, which now numbers around 14,000 residents. An influx of Italians came to the town in the 1950s to work at the Stewartby London Brickworks and over four generations, those workers, their families and their businesses have become part of the fabric of Bedford.

One of the organisers of the event, Ciro Ciampi, owner of the Sharbrook Hotel, said: “As a proud founding organiser of the Bedford Italian Festival in 2009 and 2011, this event is very close to my heart and is a personal celebration of my Nonno, Umberto Zanna.

Bedford Italian Registration Card 1920
Umberto Zanna arrived in Bedford from Italy in 1951. His registration card has been kept by his family.

“It is an opportunity to celebrate his life as a first-generation Italian who arrived in Bedford in 1951 to work at the Stewartby London Brickworks.

“His story of risk, sacrifice and hard labour are shared throughout the Bedford Italian community.

“We now have over 14,000 Bedfordians tracing their roots over four generations to the arrival of southern Italians into this region and it really is a part of our wider community heritage that needs to be celebrated regularly.”

The party atmosphere will be helped along by special guest performers from Bedford’s twin town, Rovigo.

‘Mouth-wateringly Italian’ food will be provided by some of the town’s most well-known restaurants, cafes and caterers including Mamma Concetta, TrE Fratelli, Gelato John, La Rondiene and Versuvio.

Petrolheads can get their fix at three locations throughout the town, as Riverside Bedford becomes Piazza Enzo Ferrari, St Paul’s Square becomes Piazza Ferruccio Lamborghini and a collection of Fiat, Maserati, Lancia and Abarth Alfa Romeo cars will be in Harpur Square.

cinquicentaThe Italian Festival is part of a range of events being staged across the Borough ahead of a major multi-cultural SpectaculARTS event in Bedford Park on Saturday 7 September

“SpectaculArts are delighted to have been able to help bring the Italian community together for this event,” said founder, Sharon de Leonardis.

“It has been a great experience to connect to the Italian community and to build the community’s relationships with Bedford.

“Having more of these communities working towards the bigger picture of creating more opportunities and support for the next generation and for a purpose-built building for the whole community to use.

“SpectaculArts are committed to working with the Italian community and will be helping to organise a new Italian committee to continue with Italian events for 2020.”