Friday, 17 April 2009

Little Italy

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to experience a piece of 'Little Italy' right on my doorstep. The Islington Museum, and all those involved in the showcasing of their new exhibition, Little Italy got together to celebrate its sucess! With wine, focaccia, and a lovely range of cheeses and salami, the ambience was fitting for this commemoration of the Italian community who settled in Clerkenwell and Holborn from the early nineteenth century onwards. The Italian church of St Peter and Gazzano's cafe on Farringdon Road are just a few of the Italian landmarks surviving today, which play a part in the historic story of Clerkenwell's Italian past.

The exhibition offers a wonderful collection of photographs from the period, and the rather more unique pictures of a young boy with a monkey and craftmen at work really takes you back into a time when ice creams were 'penny-a-lick'. Contemporary quotes and extracts from local press illustrate the impact of the Italian community on Clerkenwell and nicely capture the introduction of ice cream to our culture - with an authentic ice cream machine on show! The exhibition unveils the Italian story and the oral history accounts brings the exhibition to a close with the voices and music of the Italian quarter coming back to life.

Following a speech of gratuity to Camden archives and the support from Friends of the Museum we were all honoured with the playing of the Chiappa family's louder than life, hand made organ - which brought smiles of delight all round!

Little Italy @ The Islington Museum, 245 St John St (below Finsbury Library), London, EC1V 4NB, on show until 31st May.

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