the blog

Friends & Neighbors

12 January, 2017

I decided to drive to Little Italy one evening before ringing in the new year to pick up a few things at the Cash and Carry Italian grocery.

The neighborhood was packed. Diners were filling the local restaurants to capacity. Valets were running around to park new arrivals for the busy evening rush. At the Italian grocery, which also houses the neighborhood’s oldest restaurant dating back to 1950, the parking attendant apologized saying he had not a space to give me. But, he suggested I park on the street straddling the curb and the parking lot entrance. Not exactly legal, but he told me to put my blinkers on and he would “keep a watch on it.” He said if the police came by, he would tell them he was valet parking it and just waiting for a space to move it.

So, I thanked him and slipped into the grocery which had a line out the door, as diners piled in hoping to get a seat at the adjacent very popular restaurant–Filippi’s. After quickly filling my basket with a few select Italian goodies, I went outside to retrieve my car. As I turned the key, oh no–my battery was dead!

And a rush of cars were beeping their horns at me impatiently waiting for me to move. A few choice words were aimed my way…

Worst possible time and location (an evening during the holidays) to be stuck.

I popped open the hood assessing what to do, sort of head in hands, shaking my head. Just my luck, I thought…

As I looked up, I saw some friendly faces.

They were my friends from the neighborhood–Umberto and Pietro. “What are you doing here blocking traffic” they joked with me in Italian, grinning the whole time. I explained the situation and they snapped into action. Pietro ran to his car for a quick start jumper device. And the other friend, Umberto went home at his nearby condo for a minute to get something for me. He wagged his finger at me. “Don’t leave.” he said. I replied, “where I am going?”

As we zapped my battery and I turned the key, I was back in business. By that time, Umberto had returned to give me a bag of castagne (chestnuts) to roast for the holidays. I shook their hands and wished them both a happy new year (Buon Anno) and slipped a few bucks in the parking lot attendant’s hand for his efforts.

Friends and neighbors and neighborhood.
Oh…and chestnuts too.

That is what Little Italy, San Diego is about.
Happy New year 2017 everybody!

Anthony is simply amazing!!! He's well animated, very accommodating, and extremely personable. He's quite a character, in a fun and exciting way. I have nothing but positive things to say about my tour experience, with Anthony as my guide. I highly recommend choosing Anthony to be your tour guide of Italy! — VM, Bonita, CA
This is a MUST See and Do attraction in SD. Even members of our group who were born here, were blown away by the City and Neighborhood's History and stories. It was like we were transported back in time. The company and Mr. Anthony did an Amazing Job!!! Our Group of 20+ can't stop raving about it! —Lisa B. Chula Vista, CA
What a ball! My colleagues and I took the Little Italy tour for our office party and a bit of team-building. We had so much fun. Anthony was amazing. We learned so much about pizza and Italian cuisine and Little Italy's influence in San Diego. We ate, we learned, we drank, and we had a ball! I would highly recommend taking a tour with Anthony. Anthony, grazie mille!!! — Robin D. San Diego, CA
What an amazing and engaging tour guide we had! Anthony is the best of the best! I feel in love with Italy all over again. The pizza, pasta and gelato was as tasty as could be. His cooking class is next on my list. Ciao! —Marlo V. Las Vegas, NV
My work department did this tour as part of our holiday celebrations and had a great time! Our tour guide Anthony was very informative and energetic. We learned all about where pizza came from and each stop taught us something new and allowed us to try pizza from a different region. You will leave full and educated! —Sheila S. Boston, MA
Best hour and a half out of a 9 day trip. Thanks Anthony for an entertaining and informative tour of Little Italy! —Duane L. Duluth, MN
We had a WONDERFUL tour this morning with Anthony!! We all, ages from 14 to 53, had such a special and fun time learning about the history of Little Italy... We will DEFINITELY schedule something else with this group. It was truly the highlight of our vacation! —Suzy H. Irvine, CA