Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eat, drink and be Italian


This Valentine's weekend, do as the Romans do: Sip wine with your sweetie, stroll through an Italian hamlet, and stomp on some juicy grapes. It should make for a memorable weekend — purple phalanges and all — as LIADO's seventh annual San Gennaro Festa gets under way at the Safety Harbor Marina Park, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane.

"We find Safety Harbor to be such a perfect setting," said Julie Calabrese, president of the club, also known as the Italian-American Women of Today. "There's a historic quaintness there, similar to the small towns in Italy where these types of festivals happen."

The fest honors San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, who is said to protect the Italian city from disasters like earthquakes and plagues.

A procession with a statue of the saint begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Also on Saturday, a collection of 40 fast and sleek Italian sports cars such as Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Maseratis will be on display.

The fountain plaza at the park will be transformed into a piazza, with scenes of Italy as backdrops, strolling musicians and a cafe-like setting with tables and chairs.

There, one can enjoy a glass of wine or a cappuccino, a meatball sandwich, a cup of pasta fagioli (bean soup), calamari, sausage and peppers, pizza, zeppoli (Italian fritters with powdered sugar) and other ethnic specialties.

"If it's Italian, it will be there," Calabrese said.

American food will also be offered.

LIADO members will demonstrate how to make homemade pasta and pizzelles, which are flat wafer cookies with floral designs.

Bring home a T-shirt and bragging rights by scarfing down the most cannoli or meatballs. Those contests are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

You can trace your Italian heritage at the genealogy booth.

Not Italian?

Not a problem.

"They will help you find information on your family no matter what your heritage," Calabrese said.

Headlining the event are Joey Dee and the Starliters on Saturday at 8 p.m. You may remember them for their '60s hits, Peppermint Twist and Shout.

The Steve Santo Band takes the stage Sunday at 4 p.m.

There will also be Tarantella dancers, puppeteers and street performers. Look for children's crafts and games, too.

Festivalgoers may even try their hand at bocce ball and laser tag.

Admission is $4 with children under 12 admitted free.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the St. Joseph Children's Hospital cancer center, the Paul B. Stevens Exceptional Student Education Center, the Safety Harbor Public Library and other organizations.

LIADO, an organization with 130 members in the bay area, also gives out scholarships: $70,000 worth in their 16 years of existence, Calabrese said.

So stomp those grapes for a good cause and a good time.

"Be sure to bring your sweetheart," Calabrese said.

.Fast facts

If you go

LIADO's seventh annual San Gennaro Festa

Where: Safety Harbor Marina Park, 100 Veterans Memorial Lane.

When: Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Admission: $4; children 12 and younger, free.

Info: Visit or or call (727) 724-4045.

Eat, drink and be Italian 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 6:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  2. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young


    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  4. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on


    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Lien forgiveness program aimed at blighted properties in Zephyrhills

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The city will begin offering a new residential lien forgiveness program in an effort to encourage improvements to properties and home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said it is geared to foreclosures and properties for sale.