There’s a good reason London’s Clerkenwell is referred to as Little Italy. Over much of the 19th century, the area — back then known as Saffron Hill — gained a growing population of Italians, mostly working-class immigrants. With an Italian population of nearly 12,000, the cultural hub was St. Peter’s church, one of the first basilica-type religious temples in the UK. It was built in 1845 by a Roman Catholic priest, and continues to act as a meeting place for Clerkenwell’s tightly-knit Italian community.
20th of July, then, marks the annual procession of Our Lady of Mount Caramel, which is otherwise known as Clerkenwell’s Italian parade. There are religious themes throughout, but the event caters even to those without religious leanings. The parade begins at the overhead arches of St. Peter’s church.
Every year, thousands of people line the streets to enjoy the parade, which feels a lot like a quaint school play when the costumes and colours are taken into account. It’s a fantastically fun celebration of Italian life in the city, and is well paired with the following quintessentially Italian places in London.
Terroni of Clerkenwell
Terroni has been serving authentic Italian food for over a century. Since 1878, England’s longest established deli has probably been visited by the majority of Italians in the city, if not for the fantastic cannoli then for the parade.
This grade-II listed café lies on Bethnal Green road. It’s one of London’s oldest Italian institutions and is run by cheery Nevio, grandson of its founder, Priamo. It’s known for serving one of the best spaghetti bolognaises in London.
This Italian Coffee bar was the king of cool back in the day when rock & roll reigned supreme. You can find Bar Italia on Soho’s Frith Street; it’s still incredibly cool, and will serve one of the best cappuccinos in London. It’s open until 5AM, so if you’re looking for a late-night coffee in the area, it’s hard to go wrong with Bar Italia, which has been addressing that need with style since 1949.
Those seeking an artisan selection of authentic Italian gelato need not look further than Gelupo, London’s best establishment for the Mediterranean’s favourite desert. Granita, Gelati and Sorbets are served every day, so make sure you stop by this place, which sits quietly on Archer’s Street in Soho. It’s near to the Park Grand Lancaster Gate Hotel, which should serve anyone in need of a good budget accommodation in London.
Bocca di Lupo
Bocca di Lupo is a fairly new establishment, though you’d be convinced it has been there since the dawn of the century. Seving excellent food and wine from the majority of Italy, this has to be one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in the capital. From the tasty polenta to the mouth-watering cotechino sausage, Bocca di Lupo is simple one of the best options for those seeking a hearty Mediterranean meal.