At the end of every summer on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont area of the Bronx, a festival is held in celebration of the Italian holiday Ferragosto. During the festival, thousands of people descend upon the streets of the neighborhood to partake in Italian culture and heritage through the music and the food.
Belmont, NYC’s Real Little Italy, and Arthur Avenue
When people think about Little Italy in New York City, they generally think about the neighborhood near SoHo in downtown Manhattan. While it is true that many years ago the area was flourishing with thousands of Italians and real Italian food (such as places like Alleva, the oldest cheese shop in America) it is not the case today; the majority of the businesses in the area now cater to tourists and is the neighborhood is inhabited largely by Chinese immigrants and people of other nationalities.
The Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx
When a large influx of Italians started arriving to New York in the mid- to late-1800’s, the residents who were already in the city started to disperse and move to other neighborhoods in areas such as Brooklyn, East Harlem, New Jersey, and the Bronx.
The Italians who migrated to the Belmont area of the Bronx first moved there to assist in building the nearby Bronx Zoo in the late 19th century. Many decided to remain in the area after easy access to Manhattan was made available with the opening of the Third Avenue train line. Thousands of the families of the original migrators still reside in Belmont today and still have deep roots and connections to Italy.
Arthur Avenue is one of the major streets in the neighborhood that is well known for being home to numerous restaurants, bakeries, cheese shops, and both the famous Arthur Avenue Market and the more famous Teitel Brothers grocery store, where you can get a large selection of authentic Italian foods.
Ferragosto is an Italian holiday that is held throughout the month of August (with the most important date being August 15). It is a time when Italians escape from their cities, shut down their businesses for a few weeks, and head to the beaches for some much needed rest and relaxation.
When I visited Italy in late August (which I would suggest NOT doing), a lot of the restaurants that I wanted to visit were closed due to Ferragosto. While I was in Rome, many of the places that I had in mind to visit had signs up saying that they would be returning in September; I also experienced this in Pisa and a little bit in Milan. When I visited Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy, there was no shortage of food, since that is where the Italians headed. That trip taught me an important lesson: if you do decide to make a trip to Italy in August during the holiday season, head straight to the coast where you will not only find food, but you will also find the Italians.
Ferragosto on Arthur Avenue
To celebrate the holiday of Ferragosto which a very important part of Italian culture, a festival is put on in the Belmont neighborhood. Thousands of people flock to the streets to listen to Italian music, talk to their friends and neighbors, meet new people, and one of the best things of all: eat Italian food.
It would be so nice to spend extended time in NYC as we are currently doing in London. To really get to know the city like this. But…visas! Erk
Well if you do get the chance to spend extra time in NYC during your next trip try to stop by Arthur Avenue! 😀
This is so awesome! Putting it on my to do list for next time I’m in NYC
Awesome Stephanie! You will really enjoy yourself 😀
I need to go back to NYC again – I haven’t been for about 10 years. Blogging does give you a new pair of eyes I think too!
Definitely! I find out about a lot of great places through blogs 😀
I have never heard of this festival and I’ve also never been to Arthur Ave! I would actually love to visit on a regular day– I like to avoid crowds! Loved looking at your photos!
I too generally like to avoid crowds (since I have to deal with them on a daily basis here in NYC), but this festival is one that I believe was worth fighting the crowds for 😀 You should definitely check Arthur Avenue out!
I had no idea NY’s “Little Italy” was no overrun with tourists—I wish I had headed to the Bronx when I was there last summer! Thanks for the insight!
You’re welcome! You should definitely check out the one in the Bronx the next time you are in town 😀
I haven’t been, but this definitely makes me want to visit. Thanks for sharing Chanel!
You’re welcome Ashlea! 😀
I love Italian food, this festival sounds like a dream come true! I had never heard of Ferragosto before but I will try to remember to visit Italy during a different month 😉
Haha it was a dream come true 😀 Y
As far as a great time to visit, I would say anytime outside of August. Happy travels Leah!
My mother just moved to the Bronx (Riverdale). Now I know where to take her for some authentic Italian food.
Awesome! You definitely should bring her and Daryl too! 😀
Sounds delicious! I’ll certainly head out this way if I ever make it to NYC 😉
Wonderful! You definitely should 😀
When i read posts like this – I really miss New York!
Come back soon!
LOVE THIS! As a proud Italian-American, I enjoy learning about how my paesani do it in other cities. I made my first trip ever to NYC earlier this year and visited Little Italy. It was great (I went to Alleva!) but now I know, next time, head straight to Arthur Avenue!
Yes! It is a must 😀