Whether you are an Italian national considering a move to England or simply someone who appreciates the Italian culture and way of life and want to discover more of that in London, there are a number of ways you can connect with Italy whilst in the city. With more than 200,000 Italian nationals registered as residents in London, and a history of emigration from Italy to London which goes back as far as the early 19th century, it is clear that there is something about London who draws people from all over the world and there is evidence of different cultures all across London, including an Italian influence.
From world class restaurants to hand made gelato, social events for Italian expats to London boroughs, if you want a little slice of the Italian life then here are some of the places you can find that in London:-
Undoubtedly something that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime, once you have experienced true Italian gelato you will spoiled for anything less than the best. Gelato literally means ‘ice cream’ in Italian and there are a number of authentic gelaterias dotted all across London which would be perfect if you fancy a taste of some real, often hand-made, Italian ice cream. Gelaterias such as Gelatorino, Morelli’s and Lick are setting new standards with their gelato with ingenious and creative flavours from savoury to super sweet and just about everything else in between. The mark of a good gelateria (in our opinion) is one where the ingredients are sourced fresh every day and the gelato is hand stirred for true creamy perfection.
There are Italian restaurants in almost every town and city across the UK and it is certainly a type of food which keeps us coming back again, and again though it can be hard to know which of these are authentic and which are not. Our top tip if you are looking for an Italian restaurant in London is to avoid the touristy spots and any restaurant which looks like it might be a part of a chain and instead head to a quieter area and find an independent restaurant. Establishments such as Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen, TortelliniCup and Fat Lorenzo’s Kitchen are considered some of the best London restaurants for Italian food and all make great options with many serving food throughout the day from breakfast right through to late evening. There are, however, hundreds of Italian restaurants to choose from in London so wherever you are staying, or wherever you happen to be when you decide to grab a bite to eat, if it’s Italian cuisine you are craving then you won’t have to look too hard to find a decent restaurant.
If you are an Italian National living in London and you want to connect with other expats from back home then you will be pleased to know that there are a number of networks which allow you to find local events and hangouts which allow you to meet fellow Italians. These networks also often run forums where you can ask any questions you might have and gain answers from more experienced expats or find out important information such as your right to work, how to get around the city and so on. Whether you are just finding your feet in a new city or you are just contemplating a move over, these networks can be invaluable mines of information as well as allowing you to meet with other people in a similar situation to yourself which may help you settle faster or eliminate feelings of homesickness.
The Italian Gardens
A slightly looser connection to Italy but perfect if you are staying at the Grand Royale Hotel Hyde Park London as it is just a short distance away; the Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens is a 150 year old ornamental garden which was created as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. The gardens consist of four main water basins, with rosettes carved from Carrara marble and Portland stone. The Italian Gardens are a Grade II listed site and make the perfect place to escape for a few hours, either to lose yourself in a good book, enjoy a break from sightseeing or find a quiet spot for a picnic. Interestingly, the Italian Gardens have also been used in a number of movies including Wimbledon and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Located in North London, Little Venice is a beautiful and picturesque part of the city which is so named because of its connection to London’s canals and waterways. Much like the real Venice which is surrounded by a complex system of canals, so Little Venice in London is situated at the point where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canal meet. A lovely neighbourhood has cropped up here and Little Venice is home to some wonderful waterside pubs, cafes and restaurants. It is possible to walk along the canal paths from Little Venice into other parts of London and in particular the walk which takes you through North London towards Regent’s Park and Camden Town is a particular favourite. You can also hire barges or be part of a barge cruise going up the canals if you fancy a relaxing afternoon on the water as well. Although Little Venice’s only connection to Italy is its name it is still a lovely place to explore in London and to find a hidden gem of a neighbourhood with lots to offer visitors.
St Peter’s Italian Church
Located in Holborn, St Peter’s Italian Church is a basilica style church which was built in 1863 at the request of Saint Vincent Pallotti (and is still under the control of the Pallotine Order) for the growing number of Italian immigrants who were settling in the area at the time. It continues to be a main gathering venue for the Italian community in Clerkenwell and is part of the annual processione which is held each summer.