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Little Italy

Little Italy (28)

Since 1850, and for more than a century, Little Italy has been the Italian district of New York that stretched from Canal Street to Houston Street, and from Bowery to Broadway. At present, however, the rocketing growth of Chinatown from the south has reduced the district to almost a single street: Mulberry Street. 

In fact, expansion was so fast and overwhelming that the leaders of the Little Italy Restoration Association had to come to terms with Chinatown to prevent it from taking over this street as well, the former heart of Little Italy, which has now become a kind of film set for tourists.

However, this is not the only change experienced by Little Italy.

Recently, a new area has developed right where the historical northern limits were located: we are talking Nolita (North of Little Italy), one of the emerging areas of New York, boasting boutiques, cafes, restaurants, designer shops, etc. A second SoHo with a modern atmosphere and 100% New York.

We recommend you start your walk right in this area, while discovering the heart of Nolita. To do this, the best thing is to wander through Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth street between Houston and Spring. But, when you get to 260 Mulberry Street, there is a stop you should not miss: visit the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, the oldest Catholic Church in New York. 

Then, continue to move through the maze of streets of old Little Italy, the very same streets where Martin Scorsese played with Robert de Niro and Harvey Keitel, and where he later encountered gangsters and mobsters. At the intersection of Grand and Mulberry, stop for a moment: you are in the right place to capture the authentic style of this area. If you look to the north, you will see a row of houses from the early 19th century, which were built long before the great wave of immigration occurred. But if you look to the south, on the east side of Mulberry Street, you will see the typical Little Italy tenements.

Another point worth knowing is on Baxter Street, near Canal Street. There the mythical church of San Gennaro is located, where every year during the month of September the biggest event in Little Italy is organised: the Feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. A festival that lasts for ten days and fills Mulberry Street with food stalls, processions, bands, etc. A feast of colour, flavour and passion. The other great festival celebrating the Italian community takes place in June in honour of Saint Anthony of Padua.

After a pleasant stroll through the old Little Italy you will find that, despite the transformation it has undergone, Mulberry Street retains some of the historical spirit of the district with its old stores selling fresh pasta, cold cuts and cheeses, and mythical establishments like Caffe Roma, one of the favourite places for Italian actors in the thirties, or the Italian cake shop Ferrara's, which exports its products worldwide. Another great institution in the district is the Puglia restaurant on Hester Street, a place offering typical Neapolitan food, where customers sit at shared tables and accompany the establishment's singers.

But, as you may have already noted, this is not the only restaurant in the area. Undoubtedly, the biggest attraction of Little Italy is currently its restaurants, so it is not a bad idea to match your visit with lunch or dinner and try a piece of Italy in the midst of New York.

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