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Does Toronto Have a Little Italy?

Does Toronto Have a Little Italy?

Although it’s been a mild winter so far here in Toronto, you still can’t help but dream of jet-setting to a different locale to beat the winter blues. Some folks dream of a tropical island or romantic city getaway, but others dream of visiting the land of pizza, pasta, art, culture, fashion and wine. That’s right, a trip to Italy would be an ideal place to escape. But if it’s not in your budget, have no fear, as Toronto has its own Little Italy you can explore. 

Little Italy is an area in Toronto nestled just south of Bloor Street and west of Bathurst. Referred to as the Palmerston-Little Italy neighbourhood, it is centralized around College Street with the parameters loosely being Harbord Street to the North, Dundas Street to the South, Bathurst Street to the East and Ossington Avenue to the West. 

The History of Little Italy

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a large wave of immigrants that came to Toronto from Italy. Nearly 40,000 Italians settled in Canada between 1914 to 1918 during World War 1. Immigration from Southern Italy was especially high as that area suffered from a deep economic depression and poverty. 

When Italian immigrants came to Toronto, they settled in an area formerly known as “The Ward”. This area was centralized around College Street and University Avenue. Around 1920, many of the Italian immigrants moved west towards Bathurst Street, establishing the area as Little Italy. In 1911, there were approximately 4,900 Italians in the city of Toronto and by 1921, there were up to 9,000.

Beginning in the 1960s, the population of Little Italy began to change. 15,000 Italians lived in Little Italy in 1961 and in 1991, there were only 3,600. Italian immigrants began to leave the area, moving North to St. Clair Avenue West to an area known as Corso Italia. Others moved out of the city towards the suburbs of Caledon, King, and Vaughan. 

Little Italy’s Real Estate

The homes in Little Italy-Palmerston are a Toronto real estate agent’s dream! There are many beautiful Victorian homes and row-houses that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The homes are located on beautifully tree-lined narrow side streets with perfectly manicured lawns that look picturesque in the Spring. Detached homes are in high demand here and most have been renovated. Some low-rise condos are beginning to pop up in the area giving more access to renters and buyers that are interested in living in this area at a more affordable price point. 

Things To Do in Little Italy

If you find yourself in the Little Italy neighbourhood, there are many options worth exploring. You can go to The Royal Theatre and attend a live performance, festival, or private movie screening. There are excellent bookstores, record stores, and other independently owned shops to peruse. The Italian Walk of Fame is located on College Street between Grace and Clinton Streets. These little plaques on the sidewalk pay homage to prominent Italian Canadians.

Above all, make sure to come to the area hungry! There are plentiful trattorias, cafes, patios, and restaurants in Little Italy serving delicious Italian fare such as wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and gelato. If you are more in the mood for Spanish food, Little Italy happens to be the home to one of Toronto’s favourite tapas joints, Bar Raval. There are also many bars in the area to enjoy including Track & Field Bar. 

So, thankfully, yes, Toronto does indeed have a Little Italy. The area has a rich history and is currently home to many great attractions. With great shops, bars, restaurants, and beautiful homes, this vibrant area is worth checking out with family and friends. 



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