Sunday, August 29, 2010

SJ21: A Sneak Peek Inside San Jose Little Italy

San Jose / Twenty-One has a great post about the new Little Italy project in San Jose, along with a few photos. I'll also post my several of my own photos on Monday. It's still not too late to catch the Italian American Family Festa that is going on today at Guadalupe River Park next to what will soon become Little Italy!


A Sneak Peek Inside San Jose Little Italy

"It's not about developing, it's about restoring." That's what developer Joshua DeVincenzi Melander says is the true intent of city's new Italian-American community, Little Italy San Jose.

An Italian wine bar will soon be in place at the main piazza.

Anchored in the River Street neighborhood, once a bustling Italian immigrant enclave, this new Little Italy will, in a sense, be an amalgamation of several of San Jose's oldest Italian communities (e.g. Goosetown, Luna Park) which the city either destroyed or neglected over the years. At one time, Italians were the city's largest ethnic group, so this new effort is more about bringing back what the city had (and lost) than creating something from scratch.

An archway on Julian will soon welcome visitors.

Like nearby San Pedro Square Market, Little Italy is ambitious in its scope. And yet, when completed, San Jose's Little Italy will feel very personable. Unlike the expansive Little Italys of New York City or Chicago, San Jose's occupies a relatively small space, primarily between River Street and The Guadalupe River Park. When completed, Little Italy will feel like an intimate Italian community. The intent here is here to create an authentic neighborhood experience with a string Italian-themed businesses, such as restaurants, gelaterias, and wine bars, as well as piazzas, archways, and bocce courts.

Future Italian-themes businesses.

One important milestone for both Little Italy San Jose and The Italian American Heritage Foundation of San Jose comes this weekend with theItalian American Family Festa (Saturday, August 28, 11 AM - 8 PM and Sunday, August 29, 11 AM - 6 PM; admission is free). This year the festival moves to its new home, adjacent to Little Italy, in the Guadalupe River Park. It is also its 30th anniversary, and will include the unveiling of the Piazza Piccola Italia. For the piazza, Little Italy solicited donations from the city's Italian-American community, who, in return, had personalized bricks placed into the design of the courtyard.

The Piazza Piccola Italia will be dedicated this weekend.

Little Italy is definitely a project to keep an eye on. It certainly has its work cut out for it, but the project certainly seems to be in loving hands. Speaking to Joshua DeVincenzi Melander, you quickly get a sense of the cultural pride that runs deeply through the project. They clearly intend to do this thing right. And they're off to a great start.

Buona fortuna.

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