November 1st, 2023Ciao baby! What a Festa
Locals and visitors celebrated the Hepburn region’s strong Swiss Italian heritage over the weekend with a bumper turn-out recorded for the Swiss Italian Festa.
The street parade particularly proved to be a crowd-pleaser complete with traditional effigies and live pipe band music. The Local went along to soak in the festival vibe and capture a bit of the colour and verve of the cultural feast.
The weekend-long celebration attracted many visitors and locals who boast personal Swiss Italian heritage, and featured traditional and artisanal food and wine, live performances, art shows, heritage tours and a bit of bocce to boot.
The Festa celebrates the enduring contribution of Swiss Italian migrants who came to the Hepburn Springs/ Daylesford region during the 1850s gold rushes. These Italian speakers came from the villages and towns on either side of the Swiss Italian border. Into a world of mutton, potatoes and beer, they brought salami, pasta and wine.
The early Swiss Italians recognised the quality of the local mineral springs and lobbied to protect them from the destructive practices of the prospectors. They started building stone houses with cellars and wells. They planted grape vines, olive trees and orchards. Australia’s first pasta factory was built in 1859, and still stands in Hepburn.