Cultural excursions

Posted: August 3rd, 2018 | Featured, Little Italy Heritage | No Comments

By Tom Cesarini | Little Italy Heritage

Walking tours bring colorful history of San Diego’s Little Italy to life

Convivio has launched its Cultural Excursions series! San Diego residents and visitors of all ages are invited to lace up their sneakers and take part in a professionally guided tour of one of San Diego’s most colorful cultural districts.

Guided walking-tour adventures will feature:

  • The Piazza Basilone fountain/war memorial, honoring the boys of Little Italy who died at war.
  • Italian church built in 1925 with stunning religious art — frescoes, oil paintings, stained glass, and one-of-a-kind religious statues.
  • Historic homes from the 19th century.
  • Hidden neighborhood landmarks of the Italian quarter.
  • Artifacts from the days when the Genovese and Sicilian fishermen dominated the seas in San Diego.
  • The house of the Black Hand — the shadowy gang that reigned during Prohibition.
  • A visit to an Italian grocery store built in the 1920s.

In this circa 1942 procession at the San Diego wharf, church members proudly carry the American flag, at once showing their religious conviction and newly acquired sense of American patriotism. (Courtesy of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and the Convivio Italian Community Archives)

This is a wonderful opportunity for people of all cultural backgrounds to immerse themselves in the vibrant history of San Diego’s popular Italian neighborhood. Bringing along a hearty appetite on these cultural treks is a must!

Bel Mattino Tour
(Morning Tour)

Explorers will begin their morning tours at Café Zucchero, where they will be treated to a delicious Sicilian-inspired breakfast before embarking on a two-hour walking tour of historic Little Italy and culminating with a stop at Amici House, the cultural, heritage, and visitor center in the heart of Little Italy for coffee and conversation.

Tickets are available online for $29 per person, with breakfast and walking tour included in the ticket price. Children under 10 get free admission, excluding Sicilian breakfast.

Bella Serata Tour
(Evening Tour)

We will soon be launching our evening tour, and guests will enjoy an early evening walking tour followed by a hearty aperitivo experience at Amici House presented by Rovino Rotisserie + Wine, serving fresh and authentic Italian and Sicilian home cooking.

Parking Information

Paid parking is available at Washington Elementary School in two lots: State Street entrance and Union Street entrance. Washington Elementary School is just steps from Amici House, located at 250 W. Date St.

Washington Elementary School was architecturally modeled after the White House. When this photograph was taken circa 1940, the interior was made predominantly of marble, and lion heads originally marked the front entrance but were later removed. The school served the entire Italian community. (Courtesy of Fran Marline Stephenson and the Convivio Italian Community Archives)

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

—Tom Cesarini is the executive director of Convivio. Reach him at

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