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Written by Carole Corbeau from France

April 2023

In view of the 16th edition of the Festival Internazionale della Zuppa of Rome, 18 volunteers have been called in to provide assistance during the two weeks preceding and during the festival at La Città dell’Utopia. My name is Carole, I’m a previous volunteer from SCI Italy, I had the pleasure to be part of this project, and I will give you my testimony through this article.

Festival Internazionale della Zuppa di Roma

Born in 2001 in Lille, the International Soup Festival became through the years an unmissable event . A French activist native of of this city wanted to import this event to La Città dell’Utopia for its values. Indeed, soup is a popular and healthy dish found in diverse ways in every culture. But this day is not only about soup, it is a moment of celebration between people where they meet and share food together with live music, theater workshops and other live performances. Ever since, La Città dell’Utopia has been organizing this festival, with the goal of creating a community spirit and a life in the district of San Paolo. For more than 16 years, it has welcomed many artists and visitors and especially a lot of soups in competition for the “Mestolo d’oro” (golden ladle).

This event also takes place thanks to the support of a large number of citizens and volunteers coming and helping before and during the festival.

The first week

It’s not my first time in La Città dell’Utopia so I already knew the place and the organization. Still, it was entertaining rediscovering it through the eyes of the other participants. They had a lot to accommodate. The first days were aimed around getting to know each other and knowing the spaces. We did non-formal education games and icebreakers on one hand, and we created the group agreement, saw the agenda and the chores schedule on the other hand. Yes, living all together requires quite a lot of organization. Since we share the accommodation, it is important that everyone feels comfortable and participates in doing that. We were divided in groups with a different task every day: making breakfast, cleaning the hostel, the bathroom, taking care of the trash, cleaning the dishes. We were invited to be as autonomous as possible. There was even a team in charge of taking pictures.

On the week-end, La Città dell’Utopia held a “mini-campo” (a workcamp during only two days open to the public) to help in organizing the spaces in order to be ready for the festival.

The activists and us, the participants, were together doing diverse activities like, gardening, cleaning, sorting, handling, crafting… After these two days of hard work, we enjoyed our free day. It was the occasion for many of us to visit Rome. This city has so much to offer that even myself, who lived 10 months there, went to see places I’ve never seen before.

The last day of the first week, we visited Ribelà winery. It is located in Monte Porzio Catone, a village near Rome. It was a great way for us to discover Lazio wine and the importance of supporting local producers. In fact, La Città dell’utopia is in collaboration with local producers because it wants a sustainable and ecological way of consuming. The fruits and vegetables were seasonal and  bought from a partner. Which led us to eating a lot of cabbage, but fortunately, the chef found creative ways of cooking it!


Soon there will be the festival!

Few days before the festival, there was still a lot to do! More cleaning, more reorganizing… But also all the communication. During one day, we had a mission to give flyers in different neighborhoods of Rome. What I really like about this task is that it pushed us to go to inhabitants of the city and talk about the festival, its values and why they should come. I might be a little bit intimidating at the beginning but if you keep a positive attitude people would actually be open and have a small chat with you.

Putting posters and sending pictures to the others was also very fun!

There were a lot of creative people in our group so they were asked to decorate the space and make other creations while the others were still gardening and installing. All the projects were placed all around La Città dell’Utopia during the festival. I hope it will still be used in the future.


The soup festival, intense and beautiful day for everyone

The day started at 8am, we all got our tasks assigned. Some at the bar, at the sound system, at the food court… There was a mission for everyone. But first things first, we all prepared the square to host everyone. It was really helpful being so many, we did it pretty quickly.  Then it was time for everyone to be in their position to make sure that everything went as planned in the program.

Concerts, workshops, home cooked meals, acrobatics show, soups and good vibes were on the agenda! Thanks to the help of the volunteers and the activists involved,  the day ran its course in joy and good humor! That could be only my opinion but for you to believe me, I asked some of the participants of the ESC Team project how it was for them being part of the soup festival :

  • “What I liked about the festival the most is how it built the sense of community. It was really touching to see the older people from the neighborhood there enjoying the activities with kids alongside them. I don’t think the fact that it was about soup made any significant difference. I feel like people would come regardless of the theme, because the organizers made sure they feel appreciated and welcomed. I hope it will continue to be a lively place that welcomes everyone.” – Jovana from Serbia
  • “I was able to see a lot of Rome which I’m really thankful for but also getting to know people from all around Europe. We all had a common objective and the atmosphere was really chill, I felt very comfortable. About the festival, in the beginning there were only a few people and I thought it was because of the weather report. In the end so many people arrived together and I really enjoyed the company of everyone, even people I’ve met during my stay in Rome came.” – Vivian from Germany
  • “The atmosphere was so nice, the soup combined with music… There was a lot of dance and happy people.” – Malin from Sweden
  • “Good time + Nice people = Amazing memories” – Altin from Kosovo

Moreover, for those of you who want a more concrete idea of how the festival looks, you can watch the aftermovie made by Vesna, long-term volunteer of La Città dell’Utopia.


To conclude, I feel really lucky to have been able to participate another time at the Festival International della Zuppa di Roma. Being part of the ESC team with the opportunity to share this with so many other volunteers from so many countries of Europe made it even more special. These memories will stick to me forever and I hope it will be the same for my new friends.

This project is funded by the European Union through the #EuropeanSolidarityCorps programme and supported by the Agenzia Nazionale Giovani – ANG

Servicio Civil Internacional Experimentáculo Associação Volonterski centar Vojvodine GAIA Kosovo SCI Germany SCI Hellas Service Civil International France – SCI PeaceWorks Sweden SIW Internationale Vrijwilligersprojecten  Stowarzyszenie Jeden Świat – SCI Poland

This article was written by Carole Corbeau