Thousands flock to Bedford’s not-so-little Italy Festival

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On Sunday 21 July, over 2,000 people headed into the heart of Bedford to celebrate the town’s Italian heritage with Mediterranean gusto.

The Bedford Italian Festival was organised by SpectaculArts in collaboration with Ciro Caimpi (The Sharnbrook Hotel), Simone Licciardi (Tre Fratellis), Alfonsino Bravoco (Mamma Concetta) and Mick Lowe (StudioMix).

That's a Pizza Wrap! WOW Bedford Italian Festival 2019 surpassed our wildest expectations and we can only thank YOU for turning out in your thousands to make it an historic day for our town's heritage!Excellent work in record time by LimeLight TV to give a real flavour of all the action – Thank you to EVERYONE that contributed their time, Volunteered or Worked, Sponsors and Advertisers, Italian Car Display owners and and finally everybody that attended to share the Italian Passion 🇮🇹👋🇮🇹See you Saturday 7th September 2019 at Bedford Park for the Multi Cultural Celebration of all our communities that make our town so Vibrant, Colourful & Fun to live in!

Posted by Bedford Italian Festival on Monday, 22 July 2019

The packed-out event brought together many generations of Bedford’s Italian community, proud to celebrate and share their heritage with the rest of the town.

The day boasted food, fun and fast cars, plus plenty of live music for all ages to enjoy and was hosted by BBC Three Counties Radio’s Roberto Perrone.

Thanks to the Petrolheadonism.Club, over 50 Italian cars were displayed throughout the town, including a Ferrari F40 worth over £1m.

Italian festival
The £1m Ferrari F40 had pride of place in Merchant Square

Twenty classic Fiat 500s were brought together by the Fiat 500 Club UK plus Lamborghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Fiat and Lancia displys too

Between Mamma Concetta and Mobi Pizza Ovens, over 700 pizzas were sold throughout the day, meaning there were plenty of opportunities for some seriously impressive dough tossing.

The party carried on into the evening at the Higgins Pantry, with live music and dancing in the restaurant’s courtyard.

“The atmosphere was incredible,” said co-organiser, Ciro Ciampi.

“So many families came together to celebrate their Italian heritage as well as people from across all of Bedford’s communities to celebrate our town’s rich history.

Ciro Ciampi, BBC Three Counties’ Roberto Perrone, Simone Licciardi and Alfonsino Bravoco entertain the crowds

“I’m very proud to honour my grandfather Umberto Zanna who moved to Bedford in 1951 to work at London Brickworks Stewartby.”

“When I approached Ciro back in January about [supporting] SpectaculArts he said that he would try and help if i would help to organise and bring back the Little Italy festival,” said co-organiser, Sharon de Leonardis of SpectaculArts.

“The event was last held in 2011 and the Italian community had seemed to lose its own community spirit and sense of togetherness.

“SpectaculArts is all about bringing a community together.”

Comments on the Bedford Italian Festival’s Facebook page included:

‘Absolutely brilliant day. Well done to everyone. Looking forward to the next one!’ – Delphi Ellis

‘Sparkle and I thought it was brilliant. Great atmosphere, loved it! Well done to everyone involved!. – Steve Mair