Little Italy’s history, culture at Amici House.

Arriving at the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego's downtown Little Italy neighborhood.
Approaching the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego’s downtown Little Italy neighborhood.

In downtown San Diego’s beautiful Little Italy neighborhood, tucked among trees between Amici Park and the popular Little Italy Dog Park, one can find a small house that is named for friendship. It’s called Amici House.

A century ago the Amici House was home to the Giacalone family, who lived in Sicily before their arrival in San Diego in 1916. Antonio Giacalone and his wife, Josephine, became an integral part of the local Italian fishing community. Their modest Craftsman style house was originally located a few blocks to the west, near India Street. Last year the structure was moved to its present location at 250 W. Date Street, in order to make room for the new Piazza della Famiglia.

The historic home, now called the Amici House, has become a gathering place for the present-day community. Sheltered by graceful trees, its shady patio is the perfect place to relax, have a drink and chat with friends. Inside the house one can observe museum-like displays and learn about life in Little Italy, which was home to many immigrant fishermen back when San Diego was considered the tuna fishing capital of the world.

The Amici House is operated by The Convivio Society for Italian Humanities, a nonprofit organization that promotes Italian arts, culture and heritage in San Diego. The house with its intimate patio provides a unique venue for concerts and other entertainment. A variety of community activities such as outdoor movie screenings are often enjoyed in nearby Amici Park. The house can also be rented for private events.

I paid a visit on Saturday afternoon and took a few photos.

This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
Steps lead up into the beautifully renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
Steps lead up into the small, renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with books and other gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
After stepping into the small Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
After stepping into the Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
In a wooden cabinet I spied colorful gifts and crafts imported from Italy.
In a wooden cabinet I saw colorful glassware and crafts imported from Italy.
Painting of John D'Acquisto, Italian American baseball player who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Painting of John D’Acquisto, Italian American baseball pitcher who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
I'm shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society elsewhere in Little Italy.
I’m shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society in the future.
Meanwhile, the Amici House is a repository of cherished memories for a lively and welcoming San Diego neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the Amici House holds (and produces) cherished memories for a lively San Diego neighborhood.

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Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea.

A colorful new mural decorates the AV8 Apartments in Little Italy.
A colorful new mural decorates the AV8 Apartments in Little Italy.

A large, very colorful mural has appeared in Little Italy! You can find it on the east wall of the brand new AV8 Aparments, overlooking a small parking lot. The public art is titled Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea.

Artists David Leavitt and David Torres of CYRCLE created the mural, which honors the unique history of Little Italy–its many Italian and Portuguese tuna fishermen and their families, and the presence of an aviation factory years ago at this location.

Words in the mural trail an airplane, up there in the sky like the many commercial airliners today that fly over Little Italy as they approach San Diego International Airport. PRIMA DELL’ORIZZONTE is Italian for BEFORE THE HORIZON, and ALÉM DA COSTA is Portuguese for BEYOND THE COAST.

Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea, a 2018 mural by David Leavitt and David Torres, celebrates the unique history of Little Italy.
Before the Horizon, Beyond the Sea, a 2018 mural by David Leavitt and David Torres of CYRCLE, celebrates the unique history of Little Italy.

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Santa eats lots of pizza in Little Italy!

Santa Claus appeared this morning in Little Italy. He bought a yummy pizza at Landini's Pizzeria. I guess a good pizza is hard to come by at the North Pole.
Santa Claus appeared this morning in Little Italy. He bought a yummy pizza at Landini’s Pizzeria. I guess a good pizza is hard to come by at the North Pole.

I didn’t expect to see Santa this morning in Little Italy! What was he doing there?

I walked up and down India Street spying on the exploits of Santa and his merry Christmas pals. Read the photo captions and you’ll learn what I discovered…

Possibly to flag down Santa while he flew by overhead, a Buon Natale banner was hung on a street lamp in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood.
Possibly to flag down Santa while he flew by overhead, a Buon Natale banner was hung on a street lamp in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.
Apparently Santa left his sleigh and went into Filippi's Pizza Grotto to get another pizza.
Apparently Santa left his sleigh and went into Filippi’s Pizza Grotto to get another pizza.
I hope Santa doesn't neglect to put those presents in his sleigh under the Little Italy Christmas tree.
I hope Santa doesn’t neglect to put those presents in his sleigh under the Little Italy Christmas tree.
Thank goodness! He hasn't forgotten. Strange, but now he's flying a train onto rooftops. When you're full of Christmas magic, you can do things like that.
Thank goodness! He hasn’t forgotten. Strange, but now he’s flying a train onto rooftops. When you’re full of Christmas magic, you can do things like that.
I wonder if this nutcracker likes pizza. Chances are he prefers walnuts.
I wonder if this nutcracker likes pizza. Chances are he prefers walnuts.
Rudolph and an elf are also hanging out in Little Italy while Santa pays his visit. It seems everyone loves Italian food!
Rudolph and an elf are also hanging out in Little Italy while Santa pays his visit. It seems all sorts of odd folk love Italian food!
I hope and pray Santa brought lots of gifts. He'd better not forget Little Italy's poinsettia tree in Piazza Basilone.
I hope and pray Santa brought lots of gifts. He’d better not forget Little Italy’s poinsettia tree in Piazza Basilone.
That's nice. This elf brought candy canes. Obviously, Santa with his big jolly belly likes to constantly eat.
That’s nice. This happy elf brought candy canes. Obviously, Santa with his big jolly belly likes to constantly eat.
Candy canes and pasta in a window of an Italian market. Perhaps it's a tasty combination, perhaps not.
Candy canes and pasta in a window of an Italian market. Perhaps it’s a tasty combination, perhaps not.
Hey Santa! I see you're still hanging around Little Italy. You must be really hungry.
Hey Santa! I see you’re still hanging around Little Italy. You must be really hungry!
Santa can't get enough Italian food, it seems. He has already grown pale from hunger. Time for more pizza.
Santa can’t get enough to eat, it seems. He accidentally stepped into a foodless Little Italy shop and has already grown pale from hunger. Time for more pizza!
What is Frosty the Snowman up to in that window.
Wait!  What is Frosty the Snowman up to in that window?
Oh, dear! Frosty grabbed the pizza! What will Santa do.
Oh, dear! Frosty grabbed the pizza! What will Santa do?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Culture and history celebrated at Festa in San Diego!

A traditional Sicilian cart on display at 2016 Festa in San Diego's Little Italy.
A traditional Sicilian cart on display at 2016 Festa in San Diego’s Little Italy.

Festa is a celebration of Italian culture and history. Every year it’s held along several blocks of India Street, in the heart of San Diego’s historic Little Italy neighborhood. Thousands turn out to enjoy music, food, and all things Italian.

Here are a few photos I snapped yesterday. They provide a taste of what Festa is all about. Read the captions for explanations, and click the images of signs in the cultural pavilion if you’d like to read them. By the way, the food and music were great. I wish this blog could convey the deliciousness of my slice of Filippi’s pizza!

Thousands turned out along several blocks of India Street for the annual celebration of Festa.
Thousands turned out along several blocks of India Street for the annual celebration of Festa.
A cultural pavilion at Festa attracted people who were interested in Little Italy's rich culture and history.
A cultural pavilion at Festa attracted people who were interested in Little Italy’s rich culture and history.
An exhibit in the cultural pavilion included old photos of life in Little Italy, a neighborhood in San Diego once associated with fishing.
An exhibit in the cultural pavilion included old photos of life in Little Italy, a neighborhood in San Diego once associated with fishing.
The Italian neighborhood remained deeply rooted in social tradition revolving around family, work and church.
The Italian neighborhood remained deeply rooted in social tradition revolving around family, work and church.
The fishing industry defined the residents' lives and included labor in boat building, net mending, and tuna and sardine canning.
The fishing industry defined the residents’ lives and included labor in boat building, net mending, and tuna and sardine canning.
Historical photos of Little Italy fishermen at work off the coast of San Diego.
Historical photos of Little Italy fishermen at work off the coast of San Diego.
Photo of young man on a boat with a very large catch.
Photo of young man on a boat with a very large catch.
Old photos of life in Little Italy include workers at a cannery and fishermen mending nets.
Old photos of life in Little Italy include workers at a cannery and fishermen mending nets.
A display at Festa includes nets and old commercial fishing gear.
A display at Festa includes nets and old commercial fishing gear.
A pillar for San Diego's Italian community, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish as endured for more than 80 years.
A pillar for San Diego’s Italian community, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish has endured for more than 80 years.
Photographs and puppets provide a glimpse of San Diego's past.
Photographs and puppets provide a glimpse of San Diego’s past.
The Columbus Day Queens are presented on stage during 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
The Columbus Day Queens are presented on stage during 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
The Sicilian Band performs during Festa in San Diego.
The Sicilian Band performs during Festa in San Diego.
A crowd admires chalk art, or Gesso Italiano, during Festa. The amazing artwork celebrated Italy's history and culture.
A crowd admires chalk art, or Gesso Italiano, during Festa. The amazing artwork celebrates Italy’s history and culture.
A vendor at Festa sells funny signs and aprons to Italy lovers.
A vendor at Festa sells funny signs and aprons to Italy lovers.
Of course, lots of pizza, pasta and other Italian food could be found up and down India Street.
Of course, lots of pizza, pasta and other Italian food could be found up and down India Street.
Chef Boyardee (Ettore Boiardi) appears on a street lamp banner in Little Italy.
Chef Boyardee (Ettore Boiardi) appears on a street lamp banner in Little Italy.
People at Festa check out some shiny new Vespas.
People at Festa check out some shiny new Vespas.
An exhibition of Italian sports cars included Maseratis and Lamborghinis.
An exhibition of Italian sports cars included Maseratis and Lamborghinis.
A kid and gondoliers at Festa. Anyone can ride elegant gondolas in San Diego at the Coronado Cays.
A kid and gondoliers at Festa. Anyone can ride elegant gondolas in San Diego at the Coronado Cays.

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Photos of chalk art at 2016 Festa in Little Italy!

Lawrence Godfrey. Sunflowers and a peaceful country scene interpreted with chalk.
Lawrence Godfrey. Sunflowers and a peaceful country scene interpreted with chalk.

Check out these photos of amazing chalk art!

This morning dozens of chalk artists were busy working to complete their masterpieces as 2016 Festa in Little Italy officially opened. There was no special theme this year, so the artwork along Beech Street included anything and everything Italian. The photos I took yesterday (for my previous blog post) provided only a hint of what would materialize. Today’s photos show hours of hard work by the artists, who have brought their unique visions to life.

I’ve included what I believe to be the team names in the photo captions. Congratulations to all the great artists!

Artists complete their chalk art masterpieces at 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Artists work to complete their chalk art masterpieces at 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Santa Fe Christian High School. Colorful trees and hills. Perhaps its an orchard or vineyard in Italy.
Santa Fe Christian High School. Colorful trees and hills. Perhaps it’s an orchard or vineyard in Italy.
Elisabeth Eckert. Flowing artwork on the streets of Little Italy during Festa.
Elisabeth Eckert. Flowing artwork on the streets of Little Italy during Festa.
Canyon Crest Academy. A chalk depiction of The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.
Canyon Crest Academy. A chalk depiction of classic painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.
Liberty Charter High School. A scene from Venice, Italy produced with chalk.
Liberty Charter High School. A scene from Venice, Italy produced with chalk.
Pearson Family. A colorful face sure to please thousands of visitors at 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Pearson Family. A colorful face sure to please thousands of visitors at 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Lidia F. Vasquez. Another sensational work of art by a very accomplished young chalk artist.
Lidia F. Vasquez. Another sensational work of art by a very accomplished young chalk artist.
Lydia Puentes Phillips. The face of Christ before the Crucifixion.
Lydia Puentes Phillips. The face of Christ before the Crucifixion.
Stan Tang. A strong masculine face drawn with chalk.
Stan Tang. A strong masculine face drawn with chalk.
Chalkolate. A red Alfa Romeo made entirely of chalk. The Gesso Italiano at 2016 Festa celebrates everything Italian, including cars!
Chalkolate. A red Alfa Romeo made entirely of chalk. The Gesso Italiano at 2016 Festa celebrates everything Italian, including cars!
Mount Miguel High School. Someone is trying to reach out of the asphalt on Beech Street!
Mount Miguel High School. Someone is trying to reach out of the asphalt on Beech Street!
Alex Dejecacion. Some fine chalk artistry has produced a lovely woman.
Alex Dejecacion. Some fine chalk artistry has produced a lovely woman.
Weenie Kingdom. Another amazing chalk female portrait.
Weenie Kingdom. Another amazing chalk female portrait.
Liliana Mai. It seems a gondolier is waving from beneath a San Diego street!
Liliana Mai. It seems a Venetian gondolier is waving from some water beneath a San Diego street!
Valerie Michelle. Unusual chalk art depicts an elegantly dressed dog!
Valerie Michelle. Unusual chalk art depicts an elegantly dressed dog!
Megnificent. A chalk art portrait of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Megnificent. A chalk art portrait of Leonardo DiCaprio is being created.
Team Pinoy. Sylvester Stallone, a movie icon whose father was Italian.
Team Pinoy. Sylvester Stallone, a movie icon whose father was Italian.
Judith Arnaud Gary. The head of David, a famous sculpture by Michelangelo.
Judith Arnaud Gary. The head of David, a famous sculpture by Michelangelo.
Francois Lariviere. An elaborate chalk figure created for 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Francois Lariviere. A chalk figure in exotic armor created for 2016 Festa in Little Italy.
Team Parada. Colored chalk has produced a stunning face.
Team Parada. Colored chalk has produced a stunning face.
Shuji Nishimura. The face of famous Italian actor and comedian Roberto Remigio Benigni.
Shuji Nishimura. The face of famous Italian actor and comedian Roberto Remigio Benigni.
Holly Lynn Schineller. In Praise of Imperfection, a tribute to Italian twin sisters.
Holly Lynn Schineller. In Praise of Imperfection, a tribute to Italian twin sisters.
Carlos Alberto Cortez Gomez. Colorful classical figures created with Gesso Italiano.
Carlos Alberto Cortez Gomez. Colorful classical figures created with Gesso Italiano.
Cecelia Linayao. A mother and child take form on the street at Festa.
Cecelia Linayao. A mother and child take form on the street at Festa.
Grasiela Rodriguez. The iconic Roman Colosseum. A work of Italian chalk art.
Grasiela Rodriguez. This Roman Colosseum is an Italian chalk art work in progress.
Brenda Mora. In loving memory of Josephine Pecoraro.
Brenda Mora. In loving memory of Josephine Pecoraro, resident of Little Italy.
Angela Checco. Two lovers enjoy romance in Rome.
Angela Checco. Two lovers enjoy romance in Rome.
Tonie Garza. Madonna in Glory by Italian painter Carlo Dolci. One of many Catholic chalk art images created for Festa in Little Italy.
Tonie Garza. Madonna in Glory by Italian painter Carlo Dolci. One of many Catholic chalk art images created for Festa in San Diego’s Little Italy.
Tiffany Garza. A face from Italian popular culture appears on a San Diego street.
Tiffany Garza. A face from Italian popular culture appears on a San Diego street.
Renee Keady. Grapes crown a beautiful female face.
Renee Keady. Grapes crown a beautiful female face.
Brianna Cunha. The Italian theme at Festa most certainly includes grapes!
Brianna Cunha. The Italian theme at 2016 Festa most certainly included grapes!
Kira Lewis-Martinez. A graceful religious figure composed of chalk.
Kira Lewis-Martinez. A graceful religious figure softly composed of chalk.
Shawnet Sweets. A classic Italian painting translated into chalk.
Shawnet Sweets. A classic Italian painting translated into chalk art.
Team Zamora. The colors of Italy. Looking upward with pride.
Team Zamora. The colors of Italy. Looking upward with pride.
Lisa Pierre-Davis. A life-filled chalk character at 2016 Festa in Little Italy!
Lisa Pierre-Davis. A life-filled chalk character at 2016 Festa in Little Italy!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Beautiful chalk faces created on a Little Italy street!

A beautiful face comes alive on a Little Italy street. Amazing chalk art will be a central attraction at the annual Festa celebration in San Diego.
A beautiful face comes alive on a Little Italy street. Amazing chalk art will be a central attraction at the annual Festa celebration in San Diego.

Tomorrow Festa will be enjoyed by thousands of people in Little Italy. One of the annual festival’s biggest attraction is the amazing chalk art, which is also known as Gesso Italiano. Today the chalk artists began creating their masterpieces. Their unusual canvas is two blocks of asphalt along Beech Street.

I walked this afternoon from Cortez Hill down to Little Italy, to see how far the artwork has progressed. Most of the artists had already made a good start.

I looked with wonder at many colorful chalk art faces that have gradually come to life. The artists, when drawing a human form, often begin with the face. So many beautiful faces were gazing up from the asphalt.

Festa begins tomorrow, Sunday, at 10 o’clock. Thousands will enjoy the finished chalk masterpieces. I will definitely be there!

Chalk artists line two blocks of Beech Street. It's a very special October weekend in downtown San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood.
Chalk artists line two blocks of Beech Street. It’s a very special October weekend in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.
This chalk artist uses a grid to form his emerging creation.
This chalk artist uses a grid to form his emerging creation.
Another face mysteriously materializes on the street. Many different colors of chalk can be used to create subtle effects.
Another face mysteriously materializes on the street. Many different colors of chalk can be used to create subtle effects.
Elaborate chalk artwork, also known as Gesso Italiano, is being created the day before 2016 Festa begins in Little Italy.
Elaborate chalk artwork, also known as Gesso Italiano, is being created the day before 2016 Festa begins in Little Italy.
Chalk can be used to produce truly sensational images.
Chalk can be used to produce truly sensational images.
Another chalk artist at work creating a bold face in the middle of the street.
Another chalk artist at work creating a bold face in the middle of the street.
Many classical images borrowed from Italy's rich culture will appear tomorrow on Beech Street for 2016 Festa.
Many classical images borrowed from Italy’s rich history and culture will appear tomorrow on Beech Street for 2016 Festa.
Chalk and asphalt. Passion and skill. A human face is born.
Chalk and asphalt. Passion and skill. A human face is born.
Eyes peer up from the street, regarding a talented chalk artist.
Eyes peer up from the street, patiently regarding a skilled chalk artist.
A colorful chalk angel in Little Italy.
A colorful chalk angel almost ready to take flight in Little Italy.
A beautiful face beneath a halo.
A beautiful face beneath a halo.
Flying purple hair, and a glowing face in the sunlight.
Flying purple hair, and a glowing face in the sunlight.
A laughing face slowly takes life. Chalk artists have converged to create beautiful art in Little Italy for Festa!
These eyes have been infused with life. Chalk artists have converged to create beautiful art in Little Italy for 2016 Festa!

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A colorful morning walk through Little Italy.

Colorful art in the sidewalk in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood. A fisherman sells his fresh catch to a family by the ocean.
Colorful art in the sidewalk in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. A fisherman sells his fresh catch to a family by the ocean.

I walked through Little Italy yesterday morning on my way to catch the trolley. I was struck by the quiet beauty all around me. So I tried to capture a few moments with some photos.

In the interest of full disclosure, two or three of these photos are from walks on other mornings. It seems my every journey through Little Italy is magical.

It's still early morning in Little Italy, so perhaps everyone isn't quite ready to tackle the day.
It’s still early morning in Little Italy, so perhaps everyone isn’t quite ready to tackle the day.
Morning sunlight slants in to touch the side of a newly painted Victorian house near a modern hotel.
Morning sunlight slants in to touch the side of a newly painted Victorian house near a modern hotel.
Michelangelo watches--and so does a construction worker--as a new development rises in the heart of Little Italy.
Michelangelo watches–and so does a construction worker–as a new development rises in the heart of Little Italy.
This huge new development will include the public gathering space Piazza Famiglia.
This huge new development will include the public gathering space Piazza Famiglia.
Sweeping up some leaves, preparing for another day.
Sweeping up some leaves, preparing for another day.
A Little Italy Association maintenance truck has pulled up beside a wheelbarrow full of flowers.
A Little Italy Association maintenance truck has pulled up beside a wheelbarrow full of flowers.
Wisdom along the roof of one building. Do right. Fear nothing. Keep it simple. Find what you love.
Wisdom along the roof of one building. Do right. Fear nothing. Keep it simple. Find what you love.
A big red chair awaits on Little Italy's popular but now quiet India Street.
A big red chair awaits on Little Italy’s popular but now quiet India Street.
Mary and Christ Child welcome the faithful above the entrance to Our Lady of the Rosary church.
Mary and Christ Child welcome the faithful above the entrance to Our Lady of the Rosary church.
Classic bearded face provides a building wall with sculptural ornamentation.
Classic bearded face provides a building wall with sculptural ornamentation.
Little Italy San Diego street lamp banner celebrates entertainer Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
Little Italy San Diego street lamp banner celebrates entertainer Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
Fanciful birdhouses sit on a fence between homes in Little Italy.
Fanciful birdhouses sit on a fence between homes in Little Italy.
Be like a pineapple! Wear a crown. Stand tall and be sweet on the inside.
Be like a pineapple! Wear a crown. Stand tall and be sweet on the inside.
Greenery flows like cascading water from planters on the outside wall of the Sorrento Ristorante.
Greenery flows like cascading water from planters on the outside wall of the Sorrento Ristorante.
A quiet moment before the day's business begins.
A quiet moment before the day’s business begins.
Life and color fill the streets of the Little Italy neighborhood in downtown San Diego.
Life and color fill the streets of the Little Italy neighborhood in downtown San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!