Well, it’s underway again – the Feast of San Gennaro in New York City, one of the world’s largest outdoor religious festivals. The 86th Annual Feast takes place in Little Italy through Sunday, September 23 on the streets of Little Italy in lower Manhattan.
The Figli Di San Gennaro is meant to celebrate the Patron Saint of Naples. A religious procession will take place next Wednesday (September 19th, my birthday!), during which the San Gennaro statue will be carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets.
But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s really about the food.
Are you planning to go? Because we’ve been multiple times, and would like to share five tips for attending the San Gennaro Feast:
1. Don’t Go on a Full Stomach.
Obviously, you’re going there to eat. Last year, our family’s total consumption included:
Six fried ravioli
One rice ball
One slice bruschetta
One sausage and peppers sandwich
One deep-fried Oreo
One corn dog
One order of French fries
Three small cannolis
…and six zeppole
But NO pasta, interestingly enough!
And that’s just from the street vendors lining the sidewalks. They are still more than 35 wonderful restaurants in the neighborhood, open for business with specials, and plenty of al fresco seating. If your kids are picky eaters, you may not find something they like. Unless that something is pizza; then you’re fine!
2. Visit the Italian American Museum
This small but earnest museum offers a look at life for the city’s early Italian immigrants, and specifically at some famous Italian Americans. It’s located in the former Banca Stabile, a 19th-century bank on Mulberry Street, so the original teller windows are still there (and really cool!) We loved looking into the display cases, and The Girl especially liked the antique wedding gown on display.
Also good to know — the museum is air-conditioned, which may provide you with some relief if you’re there on a hot day like we were! During the San Gennaro Feast, the museum is open from 4:00pm – 8:00pm on weekdays, and 12:00 – 8:00pm on weekends.
3. Prepare to Shop
And I’m not talking about the cheap tschotkes that hundreds of street vendors are hawking from their stalls. (Although, the “Kiss Me, I’m Italian” T-shirts look pretty cute on a baby!) But take a look inside the shops themselves for interesting imported soaps, cookware, and other surprises.
4. Bring Small Bills
By that, I mean stuff your pockets with $5.00 and $10.00 bills, to be ready to pay for food and rides without having to rummage for your wallet. The lines are long, and the people behind you are impatient for their food!
You’ll also need some funds for “entertainment” :
5. Leave the Stroller at Home
Unless you get there early in the day before the throngs of people show up, forget about trying to push a stroller through the narrow streets. Consider a sling or backpack baby carrier for this event. And realize that public bathrooms are non-existent, in case you need to change a diaper. The restaurants only allow patrons to use their facilities.
For more information:
The Feast of San Gennaro