If you do an internet search for Little Italy, you’ll probably find the first reference is to an area of your home town where that nickname’s been assigned.
In my case, it’s New Farm in Brisbane – but if you were in Melbourne, it would be Lygon Street.
In New York, of course, there’s a Little Italy in Manhattan, and another in the Bronx, and one in Harlem, and Brooklyn, and Queens .. and one in Chicago, and Montreal, and Dublin, and Gothenburg.
The point is, of course, that wherever there’s been an ethnic enclave of Italians, the area becomes known as ‘Little Italy’.
But what may have begun as a slur, a dismissive ‘ghetto’ name, has often become a badge of honour – a place where locals have been proud to promote their heritage and seek visitors.
San Diego’s Little Italy is a pretty good example of that.
Originally a fishing village, and the heart of San Diego’s huge tuna fishing trade, Little Italy is now largely made up of small hotels and upmarket retail stores, art galleries and restaurants – almost all with an Italian theme.
For Example, La Pensione Hotel in today’s image – where my daughter stayed for a conference the week this picture was taken.
It’s a fairly standard studio hotel – but because it is at the entrance to Little Italy, it’s adopted an Italian name and has an Italian-style pizzeria, a cafe and a gelateria as ground-floor tenants.
The good burghers of Little Italy (or whatever the Italian equivalent would be) have established a number of festivals to celebrate all things Italian .. weekly Mercatos, a Venetian Mask Carnevale, a Sicilian festival, the Little Italy Fiesta (the largest such event outside New York) and even an exhibition of 50+ Lamborghinis from across the US.
And, of course, there are more Italian restaurants than you could visit in a week .. although it’s certainly worth trying 🙂