News / Vancouver

Vancouverites from all over turn Italian ‘for one day’

Vancouver may be one of Canada's multicultural hubs, but everyone was Italian on Commercial Drive over the weekend.

More than 100,000 Italians and honorary Italians alike converged on the Drive Sunday to celebrate the neighbourhood's Italian history during the fourth annual Italian Day.

"For one day, no matter what culture you're from, you can be Italian," said Brunella Gaudio, a director of the event.

The current incarnation of Italian Day had its inaugural year in 2010, more than two decades after the original annual Little Italy celebration shut down.

"They brought it back in a bit of a North American parody of it (Italian culture)," said Gaudio.

However, Gaudio said the event has transformed over the years to become more true to Italian tradition and culture.

"With each year, we are just adding more Italian content," she said.

With bocce ball, a fashion show showcasing Italian design, opera-style entertainment, and cooking demonstrations featuring well-known Vancouver chefs, 2013 was the most authentic yet.

Adding to the spectacle, this years theme, "Venetian carnival," had masked beauties in extravagant dress trotting up and down the Drive in stilts.

Despite the emphasis on Italian tradition, the many other cultures that inhabit the drive were present through exhibitors and attendees.

Even some events displayed a North American flair.

It took only seconds for Molly Lodato to take home first prize in the women's pasta eating contest. Her face covered with Bolognaise spaghetti sauce, she called the win "overwhelming."

Although Italian culture was the focus of yesterday's event, Gaudio said the day is more about bringing the many cultures and languages if the Drive together under one (Italian-made) umbrella.

"It's about embracing multiculturalism," she said. "Really, it's about unity."

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