When Chris and I finally took the plunge and moved to San Diego, we set out in search of an apartment in the perfect area. This was no small feat: San Diego is a sprawling city with tons of choices. There are beach bungalows, downtown apartments and houses nestled in the mountains. There’s coastal La Jolla and the towns and cities of North County. Here’s what quickly learned: finding the best place to call home takes some trial and error.
It was never a question that we’d spend some time living at the beach – after all, we moved to a place known for its year-round sunshine and mild temperatures. So here we are, in a great place right on the beach path in Mission Beach. I have a porch, an ocean view and a spare bedroom. Sounds fab, right? It is – for the most part. Here’s the catch: we live within walking distance of several college bars, in an area full of 20-somethings, retirees and vacationers. It’s hard to really feel at home – and annoying to deal with an upstairs neighbor who parties six days a week and is constantly entertaining his “lady friends.” (He’s made the blog before). I’m really missing the professional couples and families that were our neighbors in New York.
That’s why I’ve fallen in love with Little Italy, San Diego. This is one place beyond the beach that I was taken with right away. Technically part of San Diego’s downtown, this Little Italy is quite different from the one in New York City. It’s on the harbor, for starters, and is a fraction of the size. It is home to one of my favorite restaurants, Buon Appetito (which has a wonderful wine bar connected to it), and is in close proximity to Balboa Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, the Airport and Coronado. Clean and vibrant – marked by colorful trees and flowers and buildings in shades of yellow, red and purple – it is a welcoming place that seems to have everything I’ve been missing. When we headed there for the Sicilian Festival last weekend, I felt like I was back at one of the many summer street fairs they hold in my old NY neighborhood. Of course, we stopped into Buon Appetito for a glass of wine. Almost three hours later, we realized we’d spent the entire afternoon sipping Sangiovese (and possibly making a great business connection) with a delightful couple from Corona. Talking about life and work with people over the age of 21 and under 75 was refreshing. But as Chris says, “Big things always happen in Little Italy.”
We’ve decided our next apartment should be in Little Italy. In the meantime, I am soaking up every bit of the beach that I can before we move on.
UPDATE, June 24, 2010: Read what The New York Times travel section has to say about San Diego’s own Little Italy. Seems we’ve chosen one of the city’s burgeoning neighborhoods as our next home!