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.