Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Stroll through Little Italy…

Once home to San Diego's thriving tuna fishing industry the area own as Little Italy found its beginnings. Generations of Italian, Sicilian and Portuguese families lived here and made their living from the sea. Tune packing plants were a booming business until competition overseas forced all of them to eventually shut down. What evolved from the tuna fishing villages along the coast north of downtown San Diego became a vibrant and cool little neighborhood called Little Italy.

Full of quaint restaurants, pubs and other mom and pop businesses Little Italy has become a thriving neighborhood  clean with a low crime rate, thanks to their Neighborhood Association. We found it to be a neat area with a great vibe where we even heard some people speaking Italian.  After walking into several of the shops we discovered many Italian delicacies on sale. Now this is nothing like the North End in Boston where one actually might think they are in Italy, it is nevertheless, a fun place to spend a day walking around to take it all in…

The best day to visit is on any Saturday  between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm when Little Italy has their Mercato or Farmer’s Market in full swing. We have been to a lot of Farmer’s Markets but nothing like Little Italy’s Mercato.  It's a huge collection of booths lining Cedar Street from Kettner Blvd to Front Street selling various wares, meats, artisan foods, farm raised vegetables and other interesting food related goods and products. It was amazing how many tastings were offered at this market. We scored some beautiful one dollar leaf and butternut lettuces .  Later, we both decided our favorite tasting was the spicy Bitchin Dips and their chips fried in coconut oil.  The vendor was very entertaining inviting everyone to "have a bitchin day". We need to return to pick up some for sure.

Also interesting in Little Italy are the various banners displayed on several of the light posts honoring famous Italians who were influential in promoting the Italian culture. They also have a couple of plaques honoring Italians who were important in the development of Little Italy. Walking through the beautiful Amici Park, we saw sweeping views of the bay at each intersection and  enjoyed  seeing the Piazza Basilone .

The Piazza Basilone was built to honor Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone and the “boys that never came home” from all of the wars fought during the 20th century. In the Piazza they have flags from four countries representing American, Italy, Portugal and Mexico. These flags honor and represent the national origin of those lost in combat.

The only drawback to visiting here, especially during Mercato, is that parking is a challenge.  However  we found that patiently circling eventually yielded two hour free roadside parking. This may mean walking a few blocks to the Mercato but we felt it is definitely worth it to stroll up and down India street watching all the people milling about…

I feel sure we will be revisiting Little Italy on several more occasions while we are in San Diego…


  1. Love farmers markets, enjoy the sites and sounds.

  2. That looks like a terrific place to visit. Love farmer's markets. I'm happy they were able to keep their community vibrant in the face of globalization and free trade. Seems like a lot of workers have been seriously hurt by both.

  3. I am looking forward to reading about all of your adventures and discoveries in San Diego. Our daughter lives there, but when we visit we just do family things. I will be making a list for next time we go there!

  4. Being Italian, I would love Little Italy. It reminds me of Little Italy in SF.

  5. We didn't get there last time, will have to make sure we do next time.... I am half Italian and LOVE Italian food!