For the last 84 years in August Baltimore's Little Italy celebrates the Feast of St. Gabriel by closing down Exeter and Stiles streets and revealing just a little about what makes Charm City so damn charming. I've never attend the feast before, but as long as I am within four or five hours driving time from Baltimore, I won't miss it again.
The first thing one notices when they walk into the Little Italy neighborhood is the ubiquitous green, white and red banners and Italian flags. Unlike the sometimes touristy and crowded streets of New York's Little Italy, you know right away this is an authentic neighborhood of Italian Americans intensely proud of their heritage.
For the very reasonable price of $1, you get to walk the streets of the festival feasting your eyes on the people, booths selling uniquely Italian food and all the scents and smells one would imagine from an Italian street festival; everything from oven baked pizza to cinnamon roasted cashews and pecans.
One realizes pretty quickly bocce ball is taken very seriously in Little Italy. During the Feast of St. Gabriel a tournament showcases the talents of neighborhood teams, the court sidelines become a social gathering place for watching the players, other people and for soaking up the rich atmosphere of the festival.
A Sergeant from the Baltimore Police Department graciously agreed to pose for a picture with my two kids; surely one of Charm City's finest.
Festival visitors rest their feet on the steps of neighborhood brownstones.
Pizza, Italian ice cream, ravioli, cannoli, cinnamon roasted cashew and fried dough were just a few of the things my kids and I tasted at the Feast of St. Gabriel. If you are fortunate enough to be traveling near Baltimore during the weekend of this annual festival, do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon eating your way up and down Stiles street.
An elderly couple from the neighborhood dancing along Stiles Street during the festival.