Turning Nelson Italian in September 2011

Published: Thu 9 Sep 2010 09:36 AM
Turning Nelson Italian in September 2011
Ideas to turn Nelson Italian in September 2011 include launching an annual Nelson-based Italian Festival, turning restaurants Italian and hosting an Italian Film Festival, says Aldo Miccio.
Today (Thursday 9 September) marks One Year to Go until the Rugby World Cup 2011. The Italian national rugby team will be based in Nelson next September, giving the region a chance to welcome the team and celebrate Nelson’s strong Italian heritage.
Aldo Miccio says many from the community have come forward with some fantastic initiatives, and the Nelson City Council is also fine-tuning its projects to put Nelson on the map in 2011.
“Nelson is showing its community colours in support of next year’s Rugby World Cup games,” Miccio says. “The fact that Nelson will be the temporary home of the Italian rugby team also gives us a chance for the whole city to bring our Italian heritage alive.
“Meanwhile, I have also recently met with the Rutherford Hotel, and Antonio Cacace, founder of Wellington’s La Bella Italia restaurant and shop, and organiser of the annual Italian Festival, which is due to be held in Wellington later this month, to brainstorm how Nelson can turn Italian.
“Antonio is an inspirational educator of Italian culture; proven by the success of the Wellington Festival and La Bella Italia,” he says. “It is fantastic that someone from outside the region, someone as passionate as Antonio, has shown interest in brainstorming the opportunities we have to celebrate our own Italian story.
“Antonio agrees there could be the potential for his festival to be held in Nelson next year in September, and then potentially annually after that,” he says. “It would be important to talk to local businesses about the exact timing for an annual festival as this could be huge for us, considering the North Island’s festival in Wellington attracts between 8,000 – 10,000 people each year.”
Mr Cacace says he has always viewed Nelson as the Italian capital of the South Island, like Wellington is for the North Island.
“I have met with Aldo Miccio a few times now, and he has a lot of energy for what is happening in Nelson,” Cacace says. “There are many ways Nelson can make the Italian rugby team feel at home in New Zealand, either through an Italian Festival like our Wellington Festival, or theming restaurants such as the Rutherford Hotel’s Oceana restaurant, Italian; food, décor, music and all.
Aldo Miccio says he plans to organise meetings for Antonio with the Italian Club and Council staff to put the ideas into an action plan.
“If we can build a festival anything like what Wellington’s, then it will be a fantastic economic boost to the region in the shoulder or off season,” Miccio says.

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