Need to send some postcards? Head to Lola where you can find all sorts of rather unique ones to send home
North Beach’s Italian heritage is deep and evident. It’s not large - spreading less than a square mile - but it is dense with jazz clubs, galleries, restaurants, gelato parlours and a shed-load of Italian Americans. It only really developed this character after the 1906 earthquake razed what preceded it to the ground. Since then, several prominent Italian Americans have emerged from this neighbourhood, including none other than baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who actually returned to live there with his wife Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.
The Beating Heart
It was also during the 1950s that North Beach became the historic centre of the Beat Generation. Many of that generations most famous writers lived in this neighbourhood, including Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. Another poet from that time, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founded the famous City Lights Bookstore, which can still be found there today. It’s a cultural landmark that’s well worth visiting.
The Beat Generation may have left us, but the nightlife of North Beach remains among the best. For classy drinks in blue velvet booths enveloped in candlelight, head to 15 Romolo. For a real taste of Italian North Beach, you can try Gino & Carlo, where cheap martinis and homemade Italian food, along with pool and pinball, are enjoyed by (very) lively crowds.
America’s Dual Heritage
North Beach’s festivals are also not to be missed. Art in the Alley is an annual outdoor art event where you can catch emerging young talent and live music. It usually takes place at the beginning of May. A little earlier in the year is the Oyster and Beer Festival, whose heritage is in fact Irish. Enjoy an array of Irish musicians along with your pint of Guinness and batch of fresh oysters.
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