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Festa Italiana Brings Italian Culture to Campus

The Wilson Hall Auditorium was filled with the sounds of laughter and the smells of various classical Italian dishes this Thursday for the annual Festa Italiana.

Festa Italiana is an Italian festival, which takes place every spring semester, that features a variety of speakers and performers that have a healthy respect for the Italian culture. Dr. Maria Simonelli, professor of Italian, organized the festival with the help of students and faculty.

Festa Italiana featured New Jersey’s Italian Consul Dr. Andrea Barbaria, who opened the festival with his gratitude towards the University’s foreign language department and the programs that they offer to their students.

After Barbaria’s address, Simonelli introduced Barbaria’s intern, Dr. Irene Deorsola, who studied political science in the United Kingdom and Italy. Deorsola presented the audience with a PowerPoint presentation that explained the relationship between love, literature and art throughout decades of civilization. Many famous authors and artists were profiled throughout Deorsola’s presentation.

“Deorsola’s presentation has given me a whole new sense of respect for Italian artistry,” said James Kenny, a junior at the University who is Italian. “Overall, her presentation was a unique experience for me.”

Following Deorsola’s presentation, the students began to present various performances. They included poetry, music and dance. Each student performer was involved in a foreign language class and some have even performed at prior festivals.

The Italian Club made their annual appearance and performed the Tarantella, which is a traditional Italian dance that resembles a folk dance and is performed to music with an upbeat tempo. A couple or couples ordinarily perform this dance.


Before the Italian Club made their appearance, another dance number shook the festival up a little bit. Natasha Powell, a student of Simonelli’s, danced to the American electro song “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO, but there was a catch. Since this was the Festa Italiana, the song was played in Italian. Powell performed with extremely high energy and interacted with the audience intensely. She even brought up a couple of audience members to dance with her.

“Though I was interested in all the performances at the festival, Powell really loosened up the atmosphere and got the whole room moving,” said Angela Gentile, a junior who is Italian. “This may have been my favorite performance of the day.”

Once the performances all came to a close, the audience was directed to the hallway outside of Wilson Auditorium where there was a buffet of various Italian dishes. Each dish was made and donated by either a student or faculty member. The dishes ranged from baked ziti and other pasta dishes to cannolis and biscotti.

“Festa Italiana went very well, the lecture was excellent and the students’ performances outstanding, but seeing everybody there learning and having fun at the same time made me very happy and also made me realize that all the work that was done to put the event together was very much worth it,” Simonelli said.