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Meatballs & bocce ball

Insider's Guide to Houston Italian Festival: Where to park, when to go & what not to miss

Festa Italiana Houston
The 2012 Houston Italian Festival takes over the grounds at the University of St. Thomas this weekend.  Courtesy of Festa Italiana Houston
News_pizza_cheese pizza
Worth the indulgence, because pizza is perhaps the only thing better than baklava. 

If you're anything like us, overindulgence of the souvlaki and baklava at the Original Greek Festival last weekend had you swearing off heavy foods 'til Thanksgiving dinner — but, of course, exception must be made for the limitless pizza and pasta offered at this weekend's Houston Italian Festival.

The 34th annual festival will take over the grounds at the University of St. Thomas for three days of Italian heritage celebrating, bocce-balling and wine-drinking, not to mention the live music, shopping and film screenings.

We know, it's overwhelming.  

Where to park

Festival organizers point visitors to the Moran Center parking garage on Graustark and West Alabama, which charges $2 per day; don't forget to bring small bills ($1 and $5) or quarters for the cash machine at the exit. 

They also suggest street parking, which can be a bit tricky in the surrounding residential areas and Menil Collection campus. Be sure to keep an eye out for no parking signs. 

When to go

Free admission will be offered on Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Friday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., but the fun stuff — like a bocce tournament, a grape stomp and two pasta-eating contests — takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Gates will be open until 10 p.m. on Friday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

What to do

Delectable cuisine is the No. 1 priority, of course, but there's much more that shouldn't be missed. 

The festival is hosting cooking classes and Italian cultural classes children in the Taste of Italy Pavilion, plus an Introduction to Italian Wine Class that seems a steal for $15 (and five wine samples). 

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