In the last year and half in which I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve watched una piazza take shape, and, by no coincidence, it’s thanks to some Italians. This piazza is not where you might think it might be in the North-Beach-Little-Italy area of the city (an admirable landmark of shops, pizzerie, and restaurants run by extraordinary Italian-Americans still operating their ancestors’ businesses). And it’s not oval, square or rectangular, like most piazzas. Instead, it’s linear, and takes up two blocks on Union Street, between Laguna and Webster Streets, in the Cow Hollow area of Northern San Francisco. Here, my kids feel at home, as if back in Italy. In the following places, my kids can speak Italian, enjoy homemade Italian cooking and gelato, feel the bond of neighborhood friends, reminisce about the Italian culture they miss, and see how the tradition of family-run businesses transcends from Italy to America.


I’m standing in front of an entire aisle of bouillon cubes. Dark green boxes covered with the drawing of a lady in a Fifties’ bob and puffy sleeves rolled up over her apron. The ingredients listed on the small, rectangular boxes are all in Hebrew.


It was the late nineties and the sales’ season beckoned me to Filene’s Basement on my lunch hour. I spotted an emerald, satin jacket on the Super Sales’ Rack. It was collarless, fitted, short-waisted, with shoulder pads, and opened up into a chic upside-down V when all buttoned up. With matching cigarette pants, it screamed Lady Diana. It was designed in Italy, a country I’d dreamed of living in one day. If I couldn’t be in Italy, why not wear it?