Do you dream of escaping to Italy? Well that’s no surprise. Who wouldn’t want incredible food, phenomenal coffee, vibrant culture and captivating company? Well you don’t have to fly many thousands of miles to get those delights. You can sample everything you love in numerous “Little Italys” in the USA.
1 San Diego, California
The Little Italy Association of San Diego has cast a spotlight on the hilly northwest neighborhood of downtown San Diego. With its frequent festivals, weekly farmer’s market, and numerous restaurants, all attractions are located within a very walkable 48-square block area. Filled with quaint patio cafes, art galleries, shops, hotels, and the picturesque Amici Park, there’s something for everyone’s tastes. The Little Italy Association is the only district management corporation of its kind that manages a Little Italy neighborhood.
2 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Italians have been a part of the scene in Philadelphia since the colonial times. Philly’s Little Italy claims to have the oldest and largest outside Italian Market in the U.S., with its beginnings in the late 19th century. Also known as the South 9th Street Curb Market, this area is lined with little shops, specialty food stores, and fine restaurants, all with an Italian flavor. Plan a visit around the annual Italian Market Festival, occurring in May. Festivities include music, activities, food, and a procession of saints.
3 Chicago, Illinois
Chicago’s Little Italy is bordered by the Eisenhower and Kennedy Expressways, Roosevelt Road and Polk Street. Within these borders lie colorful buildings, elaborate fountains and elegant statues. Check out the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, along with numerous Roman Catholic churches; particularly the Our Lady of Pompeii and the Notre Dame de Chicago churches. The community is full of Italian restaurants, art and entertainment for all ages!
4 Providence, Rhode Island
The Italian neighborhood is also known as Federal Hill, the heart of which is DePasquale Plaza. This area has wonderful fountains, fantastic restaurants and cafes where you can often dine outside, grocers and gift shops. Take in bocce ball competitions and live music – and if you visit in June you can take part in the Federal Hills Stroll. You’ll have to buy tickets, but they come with 2 free drinks and free live entertainment, along with a map to the venues. You can vote on which venue becomes “King of the Hill,” and a lucky visitor will win a free dinner for two at one of the participating restaurants.
5 St. Louis, Missouri
“The Hill,” as St. Louis’ Little Italy is known, is a culinary delight. Sitting atop St. Louis Hill, the highest point in the city, the area is bound by Manchester, Columbia and Southwest Avenues as well as South Kingshighway Blvd. This will become apparent as you come into St. Louis’s most intact ethnic neighborhood, as the irresistible aromas of genuine Italian cuisine wafts through the streets. Don’t miss the feel of the old world found in the small local shops, statues and scenery.
6 Boston, Massachusetts
Boston’s North End is not only the seat of Boston’s Italian style but the seat of the American Revolution. Since the early 1900s, Italian roots have grown deep in this community, which now offers a selection of up to 80 restaurants, pubs, bakeries and cafes against a backdrop of fabulous architecture, cobblestone streets and Italian art. Of course, being on the “Freedom Trail” means there are a number of important historical stops to make, like to Paul Revere’s house or to the historic North Church, which was instrumental in communicating British locations during the Revolutionary War. Be sure to go when one of several Italian festivals occur for additional fun!
7 Manhattan, New York
Take a break from the buzz of New York, and enter in to the old world in lower Manhattan. Once a large neighborhood, it is now only three blocks on Mulberry Street. Visit Ferrara Café, a staple from the year 1892, and be sure to stop by St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. If you arrive in early September you’ll be treated with the Feast of San Gennaro, an annual celebration lasting 11 days, paying tribute to the patron saint of Naples. The festival features eating contests and a vibrant parade. This Little Italy historical district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
8 San Francisco, California
Stroll the neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco to explore the city’s treasures of Italian culture. Enjoy shops, bakeries, espressos, patio lunches. Some cafes go all out, playing Italian music, offering Italian newspapers, and even a little Italian language practice if you happen to get Italian café or restaurant owners or wait staff. Visit the Museo Italo Americano for stunning Italian art, or find out what Italian events will occur by checking out the schedule at the Italian Cultural Institute. Go in October to catch the nation’s oldest Italian-American parade!
I’m off to book my table at the pizzeria. It’s a quattro stagione for me. What are you ordering?