Discover Italian Heritage in America's Neighborhoods

  • Each May, the largest Sicilian Festival in the nation is held in San Diego's Little Italy.

    Year-Round Events Color San Diego's Little Italy

    San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood was populated in the early 20th Century primarily by fishermen families from Genoa and Sicily. Urban blight took its toll on the neighborhood over the decades, but a successful redevelopment effort restored the area's rich history and Italian ambiance to make it one of the nation's most beloved Little Italy neighborhoods. Festivals and special events are held year-round to the delight of residents and visitors alike.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • The Italian Children's Choir entertains at the Italian Heritage Festival in Clarksburg.

    Italian Tradition Lives On in the Hills of West Virginia

    Nestled in the hills of north-central West Virginia, the city of Clarksburg is an astounding testimony to the preservation of Italian American tradition in the U.S. In 1856, the Baltimore & Ohio railroad reached this area, and with it came scores of Italian immigrants looking for work on the railroad and in local coal mines. Since 1979, Clarksburg has hosted the Italian Heritage Festival, drawing on the rich heritage of its local immigrant families to create one of the nation's major Italian festivals.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • The Italian Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated Mardi Gras-style in the picturesque French Quarter.

    Italy is Alive and Well in the French Quarter

    A little known fact about New Orleans is that it has deep Italian roots. Italian immigrants found their way to New Orleans in the late 19th century, bringing with them deep traditions. Each year on March 19, the community celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph with a Mardi Gras parade, Italian-style. Some Italian contributions to the flavor of NOLA include "red gravy," the Muffuletta sandwich, and the music of legendary jazz great and local Sicilian son, Louie Prima.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • A traditional Sicilian procession is part of the many activities at the annual Festa Italiana in Milwaukee.

    Milwaukee Hosts the Nation's Largest Italian Festival

    Milwaukee hosts the famous Festa Italiana, which was the very first ethnic festival celebrated in 1978 on the grounds that once housed the Third Ward, the historic Italian neighborhood that fell prey to urban renewal. Since then, this site has embraced ethnic festivals of all kinds, resulting in Milwaukee being known as the City of Festivals. Milwaukee's Brady Street neighborhood also reflects the city's Italian past, with authentic delis, bakeries and restaurants.

    Photo courtesy of Festa Italiana Milwaukee

  • The row houses of Bloomfield are home to Italian American families to this day.

    Italy Thrives in the Heart of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

    In the beginning of the 20th century, the lure of work in Pittsburgh's steel mills and railroads resulted in a massive immigration of Italian families, mostly from Southern Italy. To this day, Pittsburgh is a city reflecting the heritage of these families. Bloomfield is the designated "Little Italy" of Pittsburgh, filled with restaurants, bakeries, and retail stores dedicated to all things Italian. However, Italian American enclaves can be found throughout this ethnically-diverse city.

    Photo courtesy of VisitPittsburgh

  • A young man gets a lesson in Italian cuisine at the Saint Anthony's Feast in Boston's North End.

    Boston's North End--America's Quintessential Little Italy

    Boston's North End is the quintessential Little Italy in America. Narrow cobble-stone streets, historical buildings, courtyards, lovely parks, and authentic Italian restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries give the feel of an Italian village--but on America's shores. The community, which spans one-square-mile on the waterfront, hosts literally dozens of Italian festivals throughout the summer and fall. Saint Anthony's feast is held on Labor Day weekend and celebrates its 95th year in 2014. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Italian bands parade through the streets of Hollywood as part of the San Gennaro Festival opening ceremonies.

    Viva Italia--Hollywood-Style

    If you think the closest Hollywood gets to Italy are Godfather movies, think again. The City of the Angels has a significant Italian American population scattered throughout the city. The traditions of Italy are indeed  alive and well at the annual Italian Feast of San Gennaro Festival, hosted by media personalities Jimmy Kimmel (who is of Italian descent) and Adam Carolla. Since 2002, this highly publicized Festival has celebrated the best of Italian food, music and culture.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Taylor Street Morphs into the best of Italy during the neighborhood's annual Festa Italiana.

    Chicago's Taylor Street Embodies the Heart of Italy

    While there are several Italian American communities within Chicago city limits, Taylor Street, on the city's West Side,  has earned the reputation of being the city's official Little Italy. The mile-long street is lined with parks, fountains, restaurants, and cafes. The neighborhood is home to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, which honors great Italian American sports figures, and also hosts a popular Italian festival each August.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Even the street names in San Francisco's North Beach Italian community bear tribute to the heritage.

    Italians Left Their Hearts in San Francisco

    Saints Peter and Paul Church, known as the "Italian Cathedral of the West,"  dominates the view over San Francisco's North Beach, best known as the city's Little Italy. Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who grew up in the neighborhood, posed with his wife Marilyn Monroe on the church's steps after their marriage in City Hall in 1954. North Beach boasts historic Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. Grant Avenue within the district is the oldest street in San Francisco.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • View on Mulberry Street, in the heart of New York's Little Italy neighborhood

    Italy Will Forever Leave Its Mark on Manhattan

    Manhattan's Little Italy is a tourist destination in its own right, and although it has dwindled in size over the decades, the neighborhood still captures the flavor of Italy in its restaurants and stores. It is also the site of several Italian festivals throughout the year. Italian communities also flourish in neighborhoods such as Brooklyn and the Bronx, where the heritage brought to America's shores during the great immigration of the last century remains intact today.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona