254 Wilmington, DE: Little Italy

In addition to Swedes, Italians came to Wilmington, and Little Italy is one of Wilmington's remaining ethnic strongholds, brooded over by St. Anthony, a square-towered church on a hill whose festival attracts 40,000 visitors a night. Row houses' brick-fronted porches jut right up to the sidewalk. Metal or oilcloth awnings reached over all the porches, and the city's rolling hills allowed each row house's roof to be slightly set above the next.

I interviewed the owner of a family legacy pasticceria whose face glowed with red burnished skin, brown eyes, blue mascara, and big eyelashes. Her blond hair was pulled back, and she wore simple black pants and black clogs dusted with tan flour. When I asked if people in Wilmington are isolated, she shrugged and said in a high pitch, "Maybe." Deciding to take the plunge, she continued, "I do think that Wilmington people are isolated. We do a lot behind closed doors. It's a small city. Maybe because everybody talks. I do think that people feel not free to be themselves."

"There are areas you don't want to go into," she warned me before I continued my wanderings, but assured me, "You can see the lines."

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