Workers strolling through Reddacliff Place in Brisbane's CBD today got a colourful taste of what to expect from the second half of Italian Week.
Models draped themselves over a Vespa scooter and red Fiat convertible, three tenors paid tribute to operatic icon Luciano Pavarotti and waiters from the old country practised running with trays of wine-filled glasses.
Festival producer Alessandro Sorbello said the week-long celebration had already been a hit with the city's residents, but the best was yet to come, including Italian Fashion Week parades, numerous musical performances from internationally renowned artists, a motor show and more food events.
At the end of the day, however, he said he hoped the festival left Brisbane residents with a deeper understanding and affinity for the Italian way of life.
"Italy has such a rich culture that we want to start to really now tap the broader, the deeper dimensions of it,'' he said. "We want to say it is about food, it is about fun and wine, but there's much, much more to it as well there's also a way of life. They (Italians) are very much orientated around now, about being spontaneous.
"You don't know which day is your last day so why not have a great day every day?'' Mr Sorbello said there was no reason why the sunshine state's celebration of all things Italian could not become bigger than its southern rivals. "We're going to keep building,'' he said.
"Melbourne has the Lygon Street Festival and Sydney has the Norton Street Festival, and now Brisbane has the Italian Week Festival. "Absolutely we can be bigger. "Next year we have plans to bring in architecture and visual art so we can really transform the city for Italian Week into Italy.''
Major events over the coming days include fashion parades showcasing Italian and local designers' creations in the Queen Street Mall on Friday and the weekend; the Italian Motorshow in Reddacliff Place on May 31; the Italian Waiters Race held as part of Tastes of Italy on May 31 which re-enacts the 1950s race in Rome's Colosseum and a host of free concerts from star performers on the Queen Street Mall stage and in Reddacliff place.
Simon O'Brien May 28, 2009