Com.It.Es. NSW has curated a photographic exhibition on the occasion of the Cowra 59th Festival International Understanding for 2024, where Italy was the host nation this year. The last time Italy had featured was 1969. 

On the evening of Friday 22 March, the Festival dinner was held at a fully decked out Cowra Showground pavilion. Dinner-goers were able to understand more about the history of Italians in NSW thorough the photographic exhibition curated by Marcella Marziani for Com.It.Es. NSW. 

The exhibition was very well received and many were interested to know more about the history of Italians in Australia. At the Festival dinner, there were speeches done by each of the Young Ambassadors, music by various local and away artists and dancing.

During the evening, the Ambassador of Italia in Canberra, Paolo Crudele, spoke of the deep-rooted history between Cowra and Italy due to the thousands of Italians who were sent to Cowra as Prisoners of War during WWII. Despite their justified status as Prisoners of War, the Italians in time became an integral part of the Australian Cowra community and in time some worked on farms and even returned to Australia after the War.

On Saturday morning at 10am, there was a memorial service at the Cowra POW campsite where wreaths were laid by Italian and Australian officials and those with a connection to the Prisoners of War to commemorate the soldiers who had died at the Prisoner of War Camp and those who died in all wars and from all nations. The Last Post was played and the local choir sang the National Anthems of both countries.

At 10:30am a traditionally Italian cypress pine tree was planted at Brougham Park with the Italian Ambassador, Paolo Crudele, in attendance.

The Italian officials then judged a shop window display competition and local children’s’ colouring competition which were all Italian themed. Various guests then attended the Cowra Art Gallery for an Italian POW exhibition which displayed many beautiful artworks done by the Prisoners of war.

At 3:30pm there was a Peace Bell Ringing ceremony at the Cowra Peace Bell by the Italian and Australian officials. At 4:00pm the parade began with various local community groups as well as entertainers, such as the Troppo Troupe from Sydney, marching.

At 5:00pm the Carnival in Bryant Park commenced with various stalls, entertainment (including the Troppo Troupe, Jay and Giselle and other entertainment), and even pizza eating competitions for various age groups. A stunning firework display ended the evening.

The exhibition created by Com.It.Es. will also be shown in in Sydney this year during local events.