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Italian Week




This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.


Home > Traditions > Italian Week

Italian Week: A Time When Everybody’s Italian

By Tessa Derksen

(Photo: Amit Patel) Italian Week begins with a religious procession celebrating The Feast of St. Anthony.
Folk dancers entertain Italian Week crowds.
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  • Car Parade

Every year since 1974 the residents of Preston Street have held Italian Week, or “Settimana Italiana,” to celebrate their Italian culture. The tradition was started by some Ottawa University professors and students, with the original Italian Week taking place at Dow’s Lake. In 1986 the celebrations were moved to Preston Street, historically the heart of the old Italian community.


Italian Week is held in June and always begins with The Feast of St. Anthony, in honour of the namesake of St. Anthony’s Church, the cornerstone of Preston Street. The main feature of The Feast of St. Anthony is not in fact a feast, but rather a large religious procession that winds its way through the streets of “the village.”

Throughout the week locals and visitors are treated to a wonderful celebration that includes a car parade, music, dancing and of course, the staples of any Italian celebration – delicious food and wine. Past Italian Week’s have included: a gala dinner, a concert at St. Anthony’s Church, an official opening at City Hall, bocci and soccer tournaments, and an exhibit honouring the works of the famed Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. Italian Week celebrates art and culture with various performances including ones by ethnic dancers and singers of classic Italian music.

(Photo: Pat Adamo) Italian Week 2001 featured a special event, “Opera in Piazza,” to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the death of Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.
(Photo: Amit Patel) Mayor Chiarelli officially opened Italian Week 2001 by raising the Italian flag at City Hall.
(Photo: Angelo Filoso) Attendees gather in front of St. Anthony’s Church for a concert.

Organizers introduced a new event in 2002, “Evening under the Stars” (or Serata Sotto Le Stelle). The evening of entertainment – featuring a pop musical group, stand-up comics, and a classical singer – was very popular with the Italian Week crowds.

Italian Week finishes in style with a grand Mardi Gras-like celebration. Each night – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – access to Preston Street is shut down, allowing thousands of revellers to wander the streets and enjoy food and music. Street performers entertain the crowds, adding to the festive atmosphere. There’s also an annual cycling race on Sunday afternoon that draws crowds eager to watch the professionals in action.

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