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Little Italy

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A nickname applied to the western side of Clerkenwell because of its strong Italian connections, which go back at least two centuries. Also once known as Italian Hill, its boundaries are recognised as Clerkenwell Road, Farringdon Road and Rosebery Avenue. As well as the Italian church of St Peter’s, there a few local shops and services run by members of the Italian community, but the number of these premises is declining. The greatest concentration of Italians in the area was around the end of the nineteenth century. Before this, the Saffron Hill vicinity had been notorious for the pickpockets and fences portrayed in Oliver Twist and the authorities were glad to see these supplanted by the more respectable Italians. London’s Italian population is now spread more thinly throughout the capital, but Sunday worship at St Peter’s still provides a focal point. The Processione della Madonna del Carmine, held on the Sunday after July 16th, is Little Italy’s most important event. Except during wartime it has taken place every year since 1896.

Giuseppe Mazzini, the writer, patriot and revolutionary, lived in Laystall Street and founded an Italian language school in nearby Hatton Garden in 1841.

Little Italy
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An angel passes St Peters church on the back of a truck at the Processione della Madonna del Carmine

Postal district: EC1
Further reading: Sacheverell Sitwell, Little Italy in London, Sitwell, 1977

Casa Capena
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