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Monday, September 24th, 2018

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WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – Arthur Avenue Ferragosto is a Neighborhood Tradition

(c) travelincousins.com

 

This piece is by the Travelin’ Cousins, a little blog about the travel adventures of a couple of cousins.”

Arthur Avenue Ferragosto – A Neighborhood Tradition

 

by Elisa Valentino

September 14, 2018
Penne and Little Italy in the Bronx Marinara sauce (c) travelincousins.com

This past weekend, my daughters and I enjoyed an afternoon in the Bronx for the annual Arthur Avenue Ferragosto in Little Italy.

I just love the ethnic diversity of the Bronx! Depending on the section of the borough you find yourself in, you will be met with a distinct cultural experience filled with celebrations, food and music reflecting the cultural origins of the local residents.

The Belmont Section, specifically, Little Italy as it is affectionately known, has a history that dates back more than a century, when Italian immigrants settled and built a neighborhood rooted in the traditions of their native country. For over 15 years, the folks in Little Italy have been celebrating the time honored, centuries old Italian tradition of the Ferragosto – a festival observed at the end of the harvest season.

The merchants of Arthur Avenue come together each September to create a day of festivities which includes music, fun activities and an opportunity for the community and beyond to enjoy food and drinks from the neighborhood restaurants, as well as a close-up view of local merchandise vendors.

Anyone who has followed my blog for the nearly past five years, knows all too well that inclement weather never deters me or my Travelin’ Cousin blogging partner, Tanya from our travel and visiting plans.

Well, this past Sunday was no exception. The rain was coming down pretty hard the day before, around the metro New York area, and, as predicted, it was still pretty darn wet out Sunday morning.

Downing their sandwiches in the downpour (c) travelincousins.com

Regardless of the inclement weather, me and my girls, got dressed, brought along our rain gear and headed north over the Throgs Neck Bridge to the Belmont section of one of our favorite boroughs – the Bronx!

​With the Ferragosto beginning at 12noon, the plan was to leave the house by 10:30. Even though it only takes a little over thirty-five minutes (with no traffic) from our Long Island town of Garden City to Arthur Avenue, I wanted to play it safe and get there early, as parking is not always easy to come by.

Boy, am I glad we left when we did because things were starting to get congested when we arrived, nearly a half hour before the official kick-off.

The overall mood was upbeat and sunny, from both the local merchants as well as the attendees. Except for the water everywhere, one would never guess that people were out and about, enjoying themselves on such a gray and rainy day!

Angelo was a great help and so friendly helping us select our tee shirts (c) travelincousins.com

Our first purchase was not food. Seeing Italian-themed apparel, the girls were both excited and insistent on getting “ITALIA” tee shirts, celebrating their heritage, of course. Angelo, our merchant, helped us with our purchase, striking up friendly conversation and posing for a picture.

With our newly purchased shirts, we made our way along the street, taking in the aroma from the numerous and varied Italian food offerings, whisked away by the sound of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra standards playing (and performed!) outside the storefronts, and the friendly banter of folks meandering along Arthur Avenue.

​It’s amazing how happy and friendly people are when they are doing what they love! No amount of rain was able to diminish the smiles and warmth of the vendors, who had their own set of challenges, under the tents lining Arthur Avenue.

Similarly to the Arthur Avenue vendors, I absolutely love what I do – traveling and visiting different destinations and always meeting new people all the time, and so, getting caught in the downpour, only added to the adventure of my day!

Look at those yummy sweets! (c) travelincousins.com

As we headed onward, we came upon a sweets table filled with cookies and my faves – RAINBOW COOKIES!! My eyes zoomed in on them and we walked away with a ginormous rainbow cookie from ​Morrone Pastry Shop!! Fresh, moist and rich in flavor, I really tried to keep it to myself, but alas, my kids didn’t allow that to happen!!

Next, we were led by our noses to Little Italy in the Bronx Marinara Sauce booth, where samples of penne in their authentic tomato sauce were generously being handed out. Piping hot, very al dente (the way I like my pasta!), this was a great way for three Italian girls to start their eating fest! (well, after the rainbow cookie of course).

While chatting with Mike about their sauce, a huge deluge of water from the tent fell on my head! (insert hysterical laughter). Thank goodness I was wearing a baseball cap under my slicker hood, which completely protected my face! Would not have been a pretty sight with smudged mascara!

Anyway, I was thrilled to learn that their sauce is not only organic, but vegan as well! I’ll be talking more about this product in the near future! ​​​

Not to brag, but I’m pretty much a pro when it comes to touring in the rain and handling picture taking. However, the more we walked, the more we were accumulating bags (tee shirts, left over sandwiches, rainbow cookies) and combined with the rain, holding an umbrella and keeping our trio together, it was a bit of a challenge.

The paper bags were getting wet and I had to roll them and put them in my slicker pockets. It was an interesting look!

​In any case, we walked the full length of the fair, really enjoying the music along the way and the singing from the very talented entertainment at Pasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant.

Midway down Arthur Avenue, a stage was erected, arranged with rows of audience seating, which, were unfortunately, mostly empty, due to the downpour, but on stage was an opera singer, whose voice could be heard for blocks – just beautiful!

As we doubled back towards 187th Street, from where we originally entered, Kelsey spied a table full of bread! Yes, her favorite food! And of course, she had to sample it! Thumbs up, according to her.

Our very last stop and food purchase on Arthur Avenue was for Zeppoles! You cannot go to any Italian feast without getting these fried dough all-time faves. Holy Moly were these huge zeppoles from Marie’s fried to perfection and YUMMY!!!

Needless to say, we didn’t finish any of the foods we purchased and had “round 2” at home later on.

Alittle rain (or alot) could never stop the Ferragosto and the heart of the merchants of Arthur Avenue!! Mark your calendars for next September for this Little Italy festival!

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TRAVEL PLANNING & CONSULTING

Let our expertise as local and world travelers and our growing international recognition as travel bloggers assist you with your planning.  Our Specialties include Itinerary Planning and Vegan Travel.

Let our expertise as local and world travelers and our growing international recognition as travel bloggers assist you with your planning.  Our Specialties include Itinerary Planning and Vegan Travel.

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Elisa is co-founder of Travelin’ Cousins travel blog, A native New Yorker, Fordham graduate, and world traveler, she is passionate about The Bronx as a travel destination for locals and tourists.

To submit writing for publication on WEEKDAY MAGAZINE, click here.  Fiction, non-fiction, commentary, news, news analysis, and poetry are welcome.  Bronx slant always preferred.

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