The annual "Festival Internazionale della Zuppa"

Long term volunteering

Written by Brezita Fetahu from Kosovo

May 2024

Brezita Fetahu, a dedicated long-term volunteer from Kosovo through the programme European Solidarity Corps, contributed significantly to “La Città dell’Utopia” project from September 2022 to September 2023. Throughout her year-long project, she immersed herself in various initiatives, fostering a deep connection with the local community and fellow volunteers.

In April 2024, Brezita took on a new role as the coordinator of the ESC teams, leading a group of 13 international volunteers from April 3rd to 19th at “La Città dell’Utopia”. Her leadership and passion for community engagement played a crucial role in the successful organization and execution of the 17th Annual Festival Internazionale della Zuppa di Roma.

This article reflects on her experiences and the collective efforts of the volunteer team in bringing this vibrant event to life.

As every other year, La Città dell’Utopia volunteers gather together to organize one of the biggest and most beloved events: Il Festival Internazionale della Zuppa di Roma. Originally inspired by the Soup Festival in Lille, France, this festival has brought joy to the San Paolo neighbourhood for 17 years. People from all over Rome, along with international volunteers, participate in the soup competition by bringing soups from their cultures for everyone to taste and vote for the best one. But this event is more than just a soup festival; it aims to unite people and discuss the importance of food sustainability and the environmental and political aspects of food, with each year’s festival focusing on a central theme related to these issues.

Soup is an important dish in every culture, symbolizing simplicity, warmth, love, and kindness. From simple to complex recipes, participants engage in a friendly yet fierce competition where they present the history of their soup, balance of ingredients, taste, and presentation. They prepare their soups at home and serve them to all attendees who wish to vote.

This festival requires extensive preparation. Activists from “La Città dell’Utopia” and long-term ESC volunteers start planning months in advance, holding several meetings each week.

This year, I had the chance to coordinate the ESC volunteering team project we hosted at the place from the 3rd to the 19th April with a total of 13 international volunteers that were supporting the festival and “La Città dell’Utopia”. International volunteers learned about food culture and sustainability through the eating practices in Rome and the preparations for the soup festival. The team was exceptionally well-prepared and exhibited a strong group dynamic, resulting in a highly successful event thanks to their efforts. Prior to the festival, we focused on maintaining the garden at La Città dell’Utopia, a large space with diverse plants. Volunteers recreated paths, built simple stairs as part of personal projects, and learned new cooking techniques while collaboratively preparing a menu for the festival. Their efforts in cooking together fostered a sense of community and were greatly appreciated by everyone.

People sitting at a table

During the festival’s 17th edition, numerous participants brought their soups to compete for the top prize. The jury, composed of two activists from La Città dell’Utopia and an ESC team volunteer who is a chef, faced a challenging task. Each participant shared fascinating stories about their soups, presenting dishes with varied textures and aromatic flavors, making it difficult to choose the best one.

Being part of this festival, having the chance to organize it, and coordinating the ESC team has been a highlight for me as a long-term ESC volunteer. It was an incredible experience to see such a dedicated team come together and contribute to La Città dell’Utopia and the festival. This event has united us, underscoring the importance of community and the beauty of living together amidst diverse cultures and nature. Through sharing food, the volunteers forged strong bonds and friendships that will be cherished for years to come.

This project is proudly funded by the European Union through the European Solidarity Corps programme and supported by the Agenzia Italiana per la Gioventù

Explore “Utopia Cookbook: Sustainable recipes” by Brezita Fetahu

Embark on a culinary adventure through activism and food in Rome with Brezita Fetahu’s cookbook. Celebrating vegetarian and vegan recipes, it reflects her volunteer year at “La Città dell’Utopia,” where food fosters community and sustainability. Immerse yourself in a world where food unites and inspires positive change.

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Prefer a printed version? Email SCI Italy at

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