Little Italy Neighborhood Downtown San Diego
Nestled just east of the San Diego Bay, Little Italy stretches north from Ash Street on the southern end, along India Street toward the Hi-5 to the north. Just minutes from the bay to the west, with the newly revitalized Embarcadero, strollers can enjoy a variety of eateries, the Midway Museum, and the Star of India Sailing Ship among places of interest in a lovely park-like setting. Lindberg Field, San Diego's International Airport is close by as is the historic Gaslamp Quarter in the heart of down-town San Diego. Access to the Hi-5 freeway is conveniently located at the north end of Little Italy, with easy connections to Los Angeles to the north and Tijuana, Mexico to the south.
When Italian immigration to San Diego began in the early part of the 20th century, they settled in this part of San Diego, where they built a thriving and prosperous fishing industry, adding their distinct ethnic flair to the neighborhood which evolved into "Little Italy". This evolution was rooted in the hard work, optimism and perseverance of these early immigrants, who created various business enterprises, in addition to the fishing industry they had started. Their faith and the proximity to the waterfront have thus supported these early immigrants for generations.
During the 1960s the freeway construction at the north end of Little Italy split apart the neighborhood. The 1970s saw a deep decline in the fishing industry which caused a severe downturn of the economy in the Little Italy district. Many of the residents left the area and the neighborhood fell into disrepair. It was not until the city started its redevelopment in the 1980s, beginning with the Gaslamp Quarter which spread to other down-town districts, finally reaching Little Italy, giving the local economy there a shot in the arm. With the most desirable location adjacent to the San Diego Bay, and the 15 year redevelopment plan, Little Italy slowly recovered.
Today, the Little Italy community is thriving, a model urban neighborhood in down-town San Diego. New businesses, Italian-American and non-Italian, retail and professional, are moving in. The local redevelopment agency, Center City Development Corporation (CCDC), has funded more than $3 million for street improvement along India Street, the main thoroughfare in Little Italy and more improvements are underway. Little Italy has been so successful that it has become a model for Little Italys throughout the United States.
Little Italy has become one of the best dining areas in San Diego. Among many fine dining experiences, a few really stand out. One is Anthology, a two story 1940s style supper club which spotlights live music on a center stage. This dining club also excels in luxurious interior design with a swanky bar setup and fine lounge decor, along with award-winning chefs and beautiful accommodations throughout.
Little Italy is also home to the original Filippi's Pizza Grotto, possibly the finest pizza eatery in San Diego, renowned for its food and original decor salamis and other dried meats hanging from big hooks in the ceiling and wine bottles in their little straw baskets. Filippi's Pizza establishment gives the visitor a true ambiance of Italian dining.
Little Italy Festa - is a free, one-day even that began 15 years ago and has become very popular and has grown to be the largest Italian festival west of the Mississippi. It takes place in October and welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year. Visitors get to sample some of the best Italian cuisine, enjoy arts and music from Italy, with about 150 vendors throughout the neighborhood offering the best of Italy. You will enjoy music and entertainment throughout the area, visitors can even partake in some Italian sports such as Bocce Ball, and Gesso Italian Chalk Painting contest.
Mercato - Little Italy's Farmers' Market Every Saturday, come rain or come shine, Date Street comes alive with people looking for fresh produce at Little Italy's Farmers' Market. Here you will find a variety of meats, flowers, gifts, home accessories and more. This event goes from 9:00a.m.-1:30p.m. This Farmer's Market models itself after City Markets from all parts of the world.
ArtWalk - A memorable spring weekend with art of all kinds. Hundreds of local and national artists show and sell their creations in a variety of media including paint, sculpture, photography, etc. - along 16 blocks throughout Little Italy with over 300 booths of spectacular original artwork for every taste.