A celebration of Italian and Italian American culture was on full display last weekend, as the IDEA Boston festival kicked off its inaugural annual event at the Dante Alighieri Cultural Center on Nov. 2-3.

“It was a tremendous success,” said Nicola Orichuia, the festival’s director and president of I AM Books, the North End Boston-based independent bookstore at the heart of IDEA Boston’s organization. “We had 24 events packed in two days and hundreds of people participate in the festival. There are definitely all the premises to do it again next year.”

Among the more than 50 speakers and panelists that participated in this year’s event were award-winning children’s books’ author Tomie dePaola, celebrity chef Mary Ann Esposito, Europa Editions editor-in-chief Michael Reynolds and actress and author Marianne Leone. Also among the attendees were Italian Consul General in Boston Federica Sereni and Italian Senator Francesca Alderisi, who flew in from Rome for the special occasion.

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“I AM Books is a small jewel that reproduces a precious outlook on Italy,” said Senator Alderisi. “From this initiative, Nicola Orichuia has come up with an exciting festival full of events that celebrate our cultural heritage through books, arte and authors.”

Events spanned from panel presentations on immigration, literature, film, and language, and also included a sold-out theater play by Boston-based company ImproNati.

“There is a lot that has been accomplished, but there’s also a lot that still needs to be done,” said Orichuia at the end of the festival. “There is a strong and growing love for Italian culture in the Boston area. Next year we’ll have more time to plan the festival and to organize ourselves. I know it will be even better than this year’s event!”

View more photos from the IDEA Boston Festival.

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