You hear them before you see them: stirring drumbeats and the syncopated march of a practiced procession. Adorned in eye-popping period costumes, a troupe of performers bursts into view, masterfully twirling and tossing silk flags bearing the symbols of their hometown of Faenza, Italy. Re-enacting a 16th-century ceremony, the flag wavers are just one of the attractions at The Resort at Pelican Hill® during Festa dell’Autunno.
Hundreds of festivals take place every fall throughout Italy. Whether in honor of truffles, olives, chestnuts, salami, mushrooms, grapes or pumpkins, Italians rejoice in the season’s harvest. And with its stately olive trees and Palladian-style buildings overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pelican Hill® is the ideal locale for a SoCal version. The Resort hosts its sixth annual Festa weekend October 7 – 9 and, as always, locals and guests will be treated to an authentic Italian street fair in Newport Coast’s own Tuscan village.
“I come from the Bologna region of Italy,” said Pelican Hill Managing Director Giuseppe Lama, “which is known for artisan cheeses, cured meats and great wines. This is the food that feeds my soul. Festa for me is a taste of home.”
Stroll along tree-lined lanes and feast your eyes on polished-to-perfection Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Ducatis and other Italian sports cars and motorbikes. Brush up on your bocce ball game and challenge others in one of two tournaments. Enjoy folk dancers and opera singers taking turns on center stage.
There would be no festival, of course, if not for the food and wine. The Resort at Pelican Hill® Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray provided a sneak preview, announcing that on October 8, the kitchen would be preparing freshly made porcetta (boneless pork roast), cannelloni, grilled branzino and octopus salad. “These dishes are more ‘home cooking’ than ‘chef’s cooking,’ ” he said. “We sourced the recipes from Chef Marco Criscuolo’s family recipes and a few rustic Italian cookbooks.”
One of the weekend’s highlights is the menu a quattro mani, or “menu by four hands,” at Andrea on October 7 and 8. Chef Marco and a guest chef, Michelin-starred Chef Filippo Gozzoli of Armani/Ristorante at the Armani Hotel in Milan, will put their heads and hands together to create a unique meal of specialty Italian foods and fine wines.
Little ones ages 4 through 12 are welcome to join the popular Carnevale dei Bambini, which has expanded its activities and games and moved onto the Bungalow Lawn. Children are invited to participate in traditional Italian dances, Venetian mask decorating and flag waving lessons. They can also dress up in the Resort’s pint-sized Renaissance-style costumes for a Street Festa procession led by the Italian flag performers. A special children’s buffet will be offered.
During Italian Street Festa, madonnari chalk artists will create lavish, oversized works on the sidewalk as guests look on. Like the flag-waving tradition, madonnari art can be traced to the 16th century, when Italian artists traveled to cities and towns creating chalked Renaissance masterpieces for cathedrals. Once the church work was completed, the artists earned extra money by re-creating coal and chalk images of the Madonna on the pavement. Less-ephemeral works will be created as local plein air, or open air, artists set up easels and canvases to capture the Saturday Street Festa as it happens. Visitors can take Festa home with them thanks to Mercato, which offers up artisanal foods and Italian hand-painted ceramics from the Pelican Hill® collection.
For one last gastronomic indulgence, the Resort will wrap up Festa weekend on Sunday with a sublime al fresco jazz brunch featuring a plethora of region Italian delicacies and Pelican Hill’s popular Prosecco mimosas.
“The best compliment we receive is guests returning with their children and grandchildren year after year. We’re building a multigenerational legacy for our community,” said Lama. “Guests come from around the world—even from my country—to experience this elegant celebration of Festa.”
For an unforgettable weekend book a Bungalow stay along the Via Capri as part of an inclusive Festa package. It’s the perfect way to experience this Italian cultural extravaganza dall’inizio alla fine, from beginning to end.
For reservations, please call (855)55FESTA or visit pelicanhill.com/festa. Advance ticket purchase is suggested as quantities are limited.
Italian Street Festa
Saturday, October 8 | 2 – 8 p.m.
Experience a harvest season celebration along olive tree-lined Bungalow lanes, with Italian food and wine, live music and dancing, traditional art, a Mercato, Motori Italiani auto exhibits, bocce ball and traditional flag performances.
Carnevale dei Bambini
Saturday, October 8 | 2 – 8 p.m.
Pelican Hill® presents an al fresco children’s carnival, designed for ages 4-12, on the Bungalow Lawn near Via Capri. While parents enjoy Italian Street Festa, Carnevale dei Bambini chaperones will supervise games, crafts and activities, as well as a special children’s buffet. Children may participate in traditional Italian dancing, Venetian mask decorating, flag waving lessons and dressing up in classic Renaissance-style costumes for a Street Festa procession under the guidance of Italian flag performers.
Menu A Quattro Mani at Andrea
Friday & Saturday, October 7 & 8 | 6 – 10 p.m.
Andrea Chef Marco Criscuolo and guest Chef Filippo Gozzoli from Milan, Italy, present “the menu by four hands,” Andrea’s autumn-inspired multicourse dinner with fine Italian wine pairings.
Under the California Sun Jazz Brunch
Sunday, October 9 | 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
From endless Prosecco mimosas to endless ocean views, the weekend concludes with a festive al fresco brunch.
Festa Weekend Bungalow Package
Available October 8
Enjoy the complete Festa experience with a Bungalow stay along Via Capri, two adult tickets to Saturday’s Italian Street Festa and two adult tickets to Sunday’s Jazz Brunch. From $975 per night plus applicable taxes, for double occupancy Bungalow accommodations.