I was born in a Little Italy in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I have vivid memories of corner stores reeking of "stinky cheese", sawdust on the floor-little old Sicilian nonni shrouded in black, Easter and Christmas Mass filled to capacity, and the goombas hanging out on the corner. I went to high school in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Catholic school of course. Lawrence at one time was teeming with paisani. They're still there-but mostly now in the more affluent towns of the Merrimack Valley.
One of the things I miss most about the East Coast are the European ethnic neighborhoods. The eastern cities are still full of them. I miss the food, the culture, and the people-they are quite colorful-quite different from the west. I just got back from a short trip to Montreal. What a city! Of course the French have given this Canadian city much of its flair. But after the French and the English, the Italians are the largest ethnic group. Italian is the fourth most spoken language in Canada, and in Le Petite Italie it can be heard. The Italian immigrants started the Jean Talon Market in 1933, and it continues today-a bastion of many cultures-one of the largest and finest outdoor markets in the east.If your travels lead you this way, be sure to check out Montreal's Piccola Italia. Rent Mambo Italiano some night too. It was filmed here. One of Canada's highest grossing films and one funny movie! I can't wait to head back east-Ho molto fame!