Italian Family Festa in San José 2018

The famiglia and I spent a sunny Saturday at the 38th Annual Italian Family Festa!

We’d been to the Festa before, but it was our first time at its new location. This year, the Italian American Heritage Foundation held the Festa at History Park in San José, California.

To celebrate their Italian heritage, the family signed up to volunteer: selling beverage tickets, handing out drinks, and drawing names for the Grape Stomp!


At the Opening Ceremony, the master of ceremonies welcomed all of us to the Festa! In a poignant moment during her remarks, she asked for a moment of silence to remember victims of sexual assault, as well as families affected by the recent California wildfires. Next, a priest from a San José Catholic Church gave a blessing and offered prayers for the victims of the August 14 Morandi Bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy.

After the American and Italian national anthems were sung, the Festa was officially on! Benvenuti a tutti!


Admission to the Festa was free. You only had to bring your appetite and some money for food! Vendors of Italian cuisine sold their ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, calamari fritti (fried calamari), gelato, cannoli, San Pellegrino sparkling water, meatball sandwiches, string cheese, and sfingi (fried ricotta doughnuts sprinkled with sugar), to name a few.


There was a Wine Tasting booth featuring vino from six local wineries. I prefer white wine, but I enjoyed a few sips of a lively red wine called LA VITA by Bargetto Winery in Soquel (near Santa Cruz). Unfortunately, they didn’t have any bottles for sale at the Festa. I guess we’ll have to take a trip to the winery soon!


Family Fun

There were many activities to keep the whole family entertained. Throughout the park, there were booths from local businesses with giveaways and spin-the-wheel games. There were at least a dozen vendors selling their original creations. Some were Italian-themed (silk-screened shirts with Italian words; Murano-glass handmade jewelry), but many were not Italian-themed (fuzzy puppets; toe rings; garden wind spinners). Proof that everyone was welcome!

For a friendly competition, there was a cheese building contest, where the youngest Festa guests could compete to see who could build the tallest tower using Galbani string cheese.


For the more athletic types, they had bocce, the popular Italian lawn bowling game. Although I’m not Italian (nor athletic!), I felt the warm and welcoming family atmosphere at the Festa, particularly at the bocce courts! They invited me to play then paired me up with another enthusiastic Festa guest. We played well together even though we had just met! There were two bocce courts: one standard-size and a smaller (and less competitive) one for the kids. They called it bambini bocce. Isn’t that thoughtful?


Another physical activity was the Grape Stomp. It’s so popular that they had to pick stompers and swabbies by lottery. Guessing from the participants’ pained facial expressions, it must be harder than it looks to stomp enough grapes to fill a mason jar with grape juice in less than five minutes! It was fun to watch and cheer them on, though!



There was music playing throughout the Festa to keep the Italian mood going, too. On the Roma Stage, there were alternating groups performing songs in both English and Italian.

One group performed a fun song, called “Tintarella di Luna,” which I recognized from a recent TV commercial for a Las Vegas hotel.

Behind the Cooking Stage, they played the Essential Dino playlist with Dean Martin hits, like “That’s Amore” and “Volare.”

My favorite Italian expression

In the movie, Cars 2, there’s a scene where Uncle Topolino shares this little nugget of wisdom with Lightning McQueen:

Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro

It’s my favorite Italian expression, which means “whoever finds a friend, finds a treasure.”

On that note, here we are with some of our dear amici at the Italian Family Festa:


For more information on the Festa, visit their website here.

To watch the singer perform the Italian national anthem at the Festa, watch my video here.

To hear the original version of “Tintarella di Luna” by Mina, check out a video clip here.

Ciao for now!


Pistahan SF 2018

The Pistahan Parade and Festival is the largest celebration of Filipino-American culture and cuisine in the United States. According to festival organizers, Filipino American Arts Exposition, tens of thousands of people were expected to attend the two-day event over the August 11-12, 2018 weekend!

As a volunteer on the social media team for the event’s Instagram account, I snapped some pictures of the exhibitors, performers, and festival-goers at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

25th Annual Pistahan Schedule of Events
Eskabo Daan Filipino Martial Arts School
Did you eat yet? (Sisig, palabok, lumpia shanghai, rice, and cantaloupe juice)

Traditional folk dances of the Philippines
This vendor’s shirts featured Filipino expressions (kuya, ate, inaanak, gigil, beautiful eyes, and more!)

World of Dance Bay Area champions, Str8jacket Dance Company
Maganda: local beauty queens served Heavenly Ice Cream
View of the esplanade from the 2nd level terrace

We’re on their Facebook page!
(from Expo Magazine, the visitor’s guide to the festival)

The word for festival in Tagalog (the official language of the Philippines) is pistahan! 🇵🇭

Building a Toy Airplane (& Dreams)

After my visit to Airbus in Toulouse, I went to the gift shop and bought a model airplane building-block kit of the Airbus A380! It’s a fun souvenir that family and friends can put together. To assemble 70 blocks and build the cute replica, it took the Girls and me only 45 minutes, which includes unboxing and taking pictures along the way!

Part 1
Part 1: Completed
Part 2
Part 2: Completed

The most challenging part was peeling off the stickers from the paper sheet and making sure they didn’t tear. But applying the stickers to the model airplane was a breeze!

Let’s name the pilot!

The finished replica measures about 10 inches (25cm) in length and almost 3 inches (7cm) in height. It’s sturdy enough to play make believe, but too fragile to throw in the toy box. Most likely, we’ll display it on the bookshelf. I hope the model of the world’s largest airplane will inspire travel, conceive dreams, and spark the imagination.

Speaking of which, we’re now playing a game called Name the Pilot. What can we call her? 👩🏻‍✈️

My related post:

Let’s Visit Airbus (link)

Recipe: Healthy Wraps

When I want a quick lunch to go, I’ll grab a wrap. I had never really thought about making them until a nutritionist came to my office to promote wellness and healthful eating. She brought in some tasty, colorful, and easy-to-find ingredients and showed my colleagues and me how to make a Healthy Wrap. I could not believe how simple it was to make.

Using the nutritionist’s delicious recipe as inspiration, I present my own take on the Healthy Wrap!

You will need:

  • Wraps – choose from whole wheat, tomato, spinach (I used rosemary and olive oil because I’m fancy)
  • Baby kale mix (it came with baby spinach and chard – bonus!)
  • Broccoli coleslaw mix (it came with shredded carrots and red cabbage – bonus again!)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Cucumber (sliced into strips)
  • Avocado (sliced into cubes or thin wedges)
  • Roasted red bell peppers
  • Shredded cheese
  • Meat – cold cuts or deli meat (I happened to have heat-and-serve gyros meat from Trader Joe’s, so I used that)
  • Hot sauce (like Sriracha or Tabasco, for an added kick, if you like)

First, take a wrap and place a few pieces of each of the ingredients in the center of the wrap. Be as neat or messy as you want.

Then, fold the sides over and roll it tightly, but gently so the wrap doesn’t rip.

Finally, slice the whole thing in half. (Or, make pinwheels by making one-inch slices)

Photo credit: Mia

The best part of this recipe: no cooking needed! I made it for the family and it was a hit!

Well, that’s a wrap! (I couldn’t resist!)


San Francisco Bay Area Haiku

San Francisco Bay Area Haiku (SFBAH) written by yours truly. My hometown is always inspiring me, so I’ll keep updating this page. Stay tuned…


Holly Courts and Park

Bernal Heights library card

Best. Childhood. Ever.

featured in their August 16, 2018 newsletter!


those who move here are

pro-diversity, then keep

homogeneous cliques


You’re not native by

saying San Fran or Frisco

What the hell’s East Cut?


Go to the Mission

Best burrito: rice, not fries

End of discussion


Written by Darlene C Alvarez

(Updated: September 14, 2018)

What does “Bonjour” mean?

It’s French for “Hello” and it’s the name of my second blog, which will focus on my appreciation of French language and culture.

I’ve been a Francophile since I was a young girl, but blogging about it is my latest creative adventure and I’m thrilled to share with you my personal stories inspired by all things French, including:

  • Celebrating Bastille Day in San Francisco
  • Staying in a modern and quirky hotel at a Paris airport
  • Volunteering in a medieval village in central France
  • Visiting a farmers’ market near Toulouse, and more…

I invite you to visit: Bonjour: A Francophile Blog

À bientôt / see you soon!