PROVIDENCE - The first Providence Italian Arts & Music Festival scheduled for Aug. 7-11 promises to be special for a couple of reasons. First, it's expected to be the biggest such celebration ever held in this city, and it will feature many Italian singers, including Al Martino, also known as "Johnny Fontaine," friend of the Corleone family in "The Godfather."
"This is going to be big," said Ron Murray, organizer of the five-day event scheduled for several downtown locations. "It'll be the biggest ever in the city and maybe the biggest on the East Coast."
Murray has lined up a variety of Italian singers, including Martino, These Three Tenors (a takeoff on the famous The Three Tenors), a tribute to Mario Lanza with full orchestra, swing with Michael Ciulla and Avalon Express, jazz accordion with Rhode Island's own Cory Pesaturo with Mario Tacca, and Maria Perry, winner of the 2007 Boston Pops POPSearch talent competition.
It wouldn't be an Italian festival without food, and this one will include a ravioli-eating contest on Saturday. A tent brimming with Italian art will be featured along with an opera tent with memorabilia from the Enrico Caruso Museum and the Mario Lanza Archives.
And the best part? Admission to all events and entertainment is free.
The Providence Italian Festival, downtown Providence, Aug. 7-11, providenceitalianfestival.com. Hours vary; check website for details.
PAUL E. KANDARIAN