9am I go for a walk. Within minutes I have decided that the North End is my favorite part of Boston. It is rich with history (“One if by land, two if by sea”), and the buildings are a beautiful maze of red brick, interspersed with lingering trees, branches, and flowers. I wander wherever it seems right. I walk up a hill to find a cemetery that before today I never knew existed. You can see the Bunker Hill Bridge and the water from here.
9:40am I sit down to read on a bench in St. Francis of Assisi Garden, a tiny, lovely pocket behind what used to be a church for Italian immigrants: the North End is also like Boston’s “little Italy”, and the food lives up to the title.
11:30am Speaking of which. I spot Galleria Umberto, a blink-and-you-miss it hidden-gem-in-the-wall with pizza for $1.65 a slice. Zagat says good things. I get in line behind Peter, a passionate local: “They don’t even tell the truth,” he says, on the tour guides, “You pay them forty bucks for a scavenger hunt and what do you get? Nothing. I’ll tell you the truth. I’ve been living here for 70 years, and I’ll tell you the truth for free. They shouldn’t mess with Italians. We feed America!” He gestured behind us at the line that has spiraled out the door already. Peter explains the difference between “pizzette” and “panzarotti”, and tells me that it’s a family-run business. “If you come here a lot, they know your name.” Sure enough, when we get to the front of the line: “Hello, Peter! What can I get for you today?”
While I paid for breakfast and lunch, the highlights of my North End adventure were free: discovering secret benches and views, and learning from a very Bostonian local.