If the miserable winter weather is getting you down and you’re in need of la dolce vita, head to Carlton’s Royal Exhibition Building this weekend.
La Dolce Italia is a three-day celebration of all things Italian, with a colourful cornucopia of fashion, food, wine, arts and culture on offer.
Event organiser Dario D’Agostino, who was welcomed by Melbourne’s expat Italian community when he moved here a decade ago, wants to offer Melburnians a sense of the many facets of his homeland.
“It’s a window into Italian lifestyle,” he says of the huge festival. At the entry is an enormous photographic replica of Milan’s opera house, La Scala, and each aisle is named after a famous Italian street.
“When they walk into this fantastic building, which I call the Brunelleschi of Australia, they’ll feel like they’re on holiday in Italy,” D’Agostino says.
The instant overseas jaunt encompasses everything from a peek at Versace’s 2013 summer collection to an aerial performance from the Nazionale Italiana Acrobati Pizzaioli.
Foodies will also love the truffle bar, a demo by pastry champion Emmanuele Forcone, and 300 kilograms of Italian cheese flown in by the Consortium of Buffalo Mozzarella.
A charity dinner will raise funds for Italian towns hit by the May earthquake.
Melbourne’s cycling enthusiasts will love the indoor bike race Giro d’Italia, and the bambini can enjoy games, puppet shows and songs featuring the Italian lingo.
D’Agostino has poured his passion for his homeland into the event. “Italians are renowned for our manufacturing, with some of the best brands in the world,” he says. “We have Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, Prada, Gucci, Versace.
“We’re very glamorous and passionate
– and people love the accent, too.”
Bona fide Italians who are flying in for the event will add plenty of colour. “They’ll all be nice and tanned, giving it a sense of summer,” D’Agostino says, then pauses. “Actually, that might make us more miserable. Still, I think it will be a fun weekend.”
La Dolce Italia, Royal Exhibition Building, Friday, August 10, to Sunday, August 12. Details: visit ladolceitalia.com.au