With love, from Italy: Your guide to the Italian Heritage Festival

Take some spasso (fun), sprinkle a little gusto (flavor) and add some divertimento (entertainment), and you have the perfect recipe for an Italian festival -- more specifically, the second annual Italian Heritage Festival on Hilton Head Island.

Here's a little "travel" guide for this weekend:


What: The Italian-American Club of Hilton Head plans to bring awareness of the Italian culture to the area through music, contests and, of course, food, said John Pagluicka, one of the organizers of the event.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Shelter Cove Park, Hilton Head

Cost: $5 entry fee; all of the money from the event goes to local nonprofit groups

If you want the good stuff, get there early. Last year, about 2,500 people attended the event, according to Pagluicka. People waited in lines to try some authentic Italian zeppoles for an hour-and-a-half at some points of the festival, he said. This year, the group plans to have more locations for the scrumptious, fried dough pastries.

Try the wine. Aside from a wine-tasting event at the festival, visitors should try their hand -- or feet rather -- at grape stomping. At noon, grape stompers will compete to see who can squeeze the most juice out of a barrel of grapes. The competition is $10 to enter and all of the proceeds will go to a local charity, Pagluicka said.

Learn to play bocce. The club will set up two bocce courts, and several members will be around to teach festival-goers how to play. "It's a very simple game, and it's a lot of fun," Pagluicka said. "You can play it at home. You can play it at the beach. You can play it on the grass."

It's not baseball. The club will also teach others to play stickball, a game from the streets of Little Italy in New York. Instead of using a bat and a baseball, this game was played with a broomstick and little red rubber ball. "You'd determine whether you got first, second or third base based on how many manhole covers you passed with the ball," said Pagluicka. While Shelter Cove does not have manhole covers, the group will have markings to help with the game. Winners will receive prizes.

Eat some food. Booths from 16 restaurants will be selling small portions of Italian dishes. From Wise Guys' pizzettas to Trattoria Divina's lobster ravioli, people at the festival can dine on some of Italy's greatest cuisine. If you love noodles, enter in the pasta-eating contest. Winners will receive a trophy belt for their feat. There will also be a cooking demonstration from Orchid Paulmeier of One Hot Mama's. While you're eating, try some delicious desserts from any of the vendors and maybe drink some Italian soda or beer.

Try some Italian words and phrases while you're at the festival:

E delizioso: It's delicious!

Per favore: Please

Buon appetite: Enjoy the meal!

Grazie tanto: Thank you very much.

Una bottiglia di vino: A bottle of wine

Aveta del platti vegetariani?: Do you have vegetarian dishes?