Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Arts & Culture
Published on June 05, 2023
Festa Italiana Celebrates All Things Italian in North BeachExpanded two-day Festa Italiana celebrates Italian history and culture in North Beach. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

There was plenty of community pride in the air in North Beach this past weekend. The monthly First Fridays event got the ball rolling with an inspiring LGBTQ Pride-themed evening. And on Saturday, the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (SFIAC) kicked off its Festa Italiana, a street fair celebrating Italian history and culture. This year marked the first time the club doubled the fun of the free event held on Stockton Street between Union and Filbert by expanding it into a two-day party. The festivities included Sunday morning's running of the 102nd Statuto Race. In the past, the race— which commemorates the creation of the first Italian Constitution (Statuto Albertino)—was held separately in the fall. 

"This is our 14th edition of the Festa," said Nick Figone, executive director of the SFIAC's foundation. "It’s the first time we combined our two events to make a super weekend of everything Italian. We're the only Italian street festival in San Francisco, and we pride ourselves on bringing best-in-class music, cuisine, and dancing to North Beach."

The spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church rise above the crowd at last weekend's Festa Italiana.
Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Along with picture-perfect weather, attendees enjoyed a variety of live entertainment. The Ricco Italian Dancers performed the tarantella and other traditional dances. Musical acts included Fruzzetti, the Nino Lane Band, Sonamo, il Sole featuring Steve Albini, and Bella Ciao. The Kids’ Corner kept youngsters happy with activities like face painting and, on Saturday, puppet shows starring the Fratello Marionettes.

Saturday attendees enjoy a performance by the Ricco Italian Dancers. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


il Sole got the crowd in a festive mood on both days of the street fair. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

The crowd soaked up the sun and live entertainment throughout the weekend. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Kids laughed at the funny antics of the Fratello Marionettes.  Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

On Saturday, Tony Gemignani, owner of award-winning Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, delighted Festa attendees by showing off the skills that have made him a world-champion pizzaiolo. His cannoli stand was also a hit. Folks patiently waited in line to gobble up the cream-stuffed pastries that were selling out almost as fast as Gemignani's crew could make them. Gelato and refreshing Italian spritzers were also popular on this warm weekend. Sonoma wineries Capo Isetta and Highway 12 offered wine tasting and Italian fare. Other vendors included Lianna Soap, Giovanni’s Specialities, True Delicious, Zoe Aquila Jewelry, and Amelia Imports. 

Fresh cannoli satisfied those with a sweet tooth. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Pretty Italian spritzers tempted thirsty Festa attendees. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

After Sunday morning's race, the rest of the day's fun centered around the accordion, the official instrument of San Francisco. SFIAC member and piano accordion player Tom Torriglia (part of the weekend's entertainment line-up) helped the humble instrument gain that designation in 1990.

"There's a rich history of the piano accordion in San Francisco, specifically here in North Beach,” said Figone. "We had three different accordion manufacturing companies here. There were also studios where people would take lessons, so we’re excited to honor the history of the official instrument of San Francisco.”

A fan shows her appreciation for the Italian music. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


The crowd gets ready for Sunday's "That's Amore" accordion sing-along
. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

Colorful performers take the stage for the accordion sing-along. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


It's hard not to smile when you're singing "That's Amore." Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Statuto Race

Sunday's Statuto Race gave Athletic types looking to get in a workout before filling up on food and fun two options to choose from: an 8K run or a 2K walk. Here are a few photos from the event:

Runners line up for the start of Sunday's 102nd Statuto Race. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


And they're off! Racers head to the Embarcadero from Stockton Street.
Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Walkers show their Italian pride. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Runners share some love near the finish line.  Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Overall winner Anthony Cortes blazes down Stockton Street towards the finish line. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Kerry Gibson, the first woman to cross the finish line, crests the final hill on Stockton Street.
Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell


Medals sporting the colors of the Italian flag await all race finishers
. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell

Anthony Cortes receives his first-place trophies during the race awards ceremony. Photo credit: Dorothy O'Donnell