Little Italy District, San Diego
Unlike most Little Italy communities around the country these days, San Diego’s Little Italy is stable, vibrant, holding on to its heritage of businesses and residences. Little Italy has been a mainstay in downtown San Diego since the 1920s, although there was a decade through the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s because of the Interstate 5 freeway construction. However, the 1990s saw the property and business owners rooted in the area start to rebuild the neighborhood. Today, it is a model for other Little Italy communities around the country around they can pin their own hopes of revival.
Points of Interest
The Little Italy Landmark Sign was constructed in the 1960s as a tribute to the immigrant community and was dedicated in October of 2000.
Amici Park, on the corner of Date and State streets, is adjacent to Washington Elementary School. Visitors can find a small amphitheater, Bocci ball courts, and a large green playing field where the elementary school students often play during school.
The Embarcadero is on property under the auspices of the Port of San Diego. Here lies the terminal for cruise ships, the Star of India, and the USS Midway. The Navy Pier and Broadway Pier are featured, as well, along with Seaport Village.
The One-Mile Walk is exactly that: a one-mile walking path that does not cross over any major intersections or meet any stoplights. It’s the perfect way for Little Italy residents and guests to get in a workout. The Walk starts at the intersection of Union and W. Ash, where walkers can read a granite plaque recounting the story of the One-Mile Walk. Subsequent plaques marking each one-eighth of a mile accompany the walk.
Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church held its first mass on Christmas Day, 1923. The new church was finished and finally consecrated two years later, and it became a place for Italian immigrants to renew their faith, share their culture, and make a home away from home. For more information, please visit the church web site: http://olrsd.org/
Other notable points of interest in Little Italy include the inspiring Piazza Basilone, the San Diego Firehouse Museum, Little Italy Legends, and the aforementioned Washington Elementary School.
Of course, what’s a Little Italy neighborhood without cafes and delis to pick up your favorite Italian dishes? Have an espresso and enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather at various cafes throughout the neighborhood. Grab your favorite deli sandwich, or experiment with a new one, at the plethora of delis. And who wouldn’t want to try an authentic Italian pizza from one of the family-run pizzerias? You’ll never hit one of those big franchise pizza chains again!
For those with different tastes, many bars, lounges, and more formal-style restaurants dot Little Italy, as well.
You won’t want to miss the many specialty shops, art galleries, Italian supermarkets, clothing boutiques, shoe shops, and jewelry stores found thoughout the downtown Little Italy community. Regardless of your tastes, there’s shopping for you.
There are plenty of selections from which to choose, including Italian inns and bed and breakfasts. There are also plenty of larger hotels and motels, too, depending on your tastes.
Little Italy is an enchanting, often overlooked part of San Diego that no visitor should miss. Check out their web site (http://www.littleitalysd.com) and enjoy a unique Italian experience in the heart of San Diego.