In the 19th century, due to the political and economic situation, there was an exodus of Italian immigrants, travelling from every region of Italy, particularly southern Italy, Lazio and Campagna, to the UK.
Some settled in the Ancoats area of Manchester, and for the next hundred years they created what became known as Manchester’s ‘Little Italy’.
Now, a plaque has been installed at Halle at St Michael’s to officially recognise Little Italy Ancoats, “a community integral to Manchester’s economic and cultural heritage since the late 19th century”.
“After 22 months, hundreds of emails, a few applications, securing funding and a global pandemic…IT’S UP!!!!!” said Lily Mott on Twitter.
“Ancoats is Little Italy.. and this plaque finally recognises that. The Italian community was, and continues to be, a huge part of Manchester’s history.”
The site ancoatslittleitaly.com says that the many families who brought colour and life to this area are a constant source of interest to those interested in genealogy and their family history.
“They enhanced the Catholic Whit Walk, they pioneered the British ice cream industry, and survived the turmoil of the second world war,” says the site.
“The Italians brought such character to this grim part of Manchester, their music, food and customs brought so much colour to this area.”
There is also a section dedicated to the families who were “the pioneers of the ice cream industry” in Manchester.
“The names of the more famous and industrious ice cream families were magic, music to the ear, and roll off like the names of the Italian national football team: Marco Rea and sons; Vincenzo Schiavo (Vincent’s Ices); Carlo Tiani’s; Boggiano’s (Peter Burgon’s); Gerardo Scappaticci (Gerard’s Ices); Bernardo Scappaticci (Ben’s Ices); Carlo Visco’s (Mamma It’s Carlo); Rocca’s; Pessagno’s; Pandolfo’s; Trulio’s, Sivori’s; Raffo’s; Marocca’s; Meschia’s; Granelli’s (of Oldham Road); Bacigalupo’s; Mattiusi; Luchetti; Cabrelli’s; Granelli’s (North Road Clayton); Longinotti’s; Bertaloni’s; Coniola’s; Andrucci’s (Andrew’s); Perselli’s; Levaggi’s of Denton, and many more.”
Post-war, with new selling boundaries being drawn, between the old families, and then the new arrivals, there were often conflicts, apparently.
“As is the way with Italians, these often ended in vendettas. This was the beginning of what became known as the ‘Ice Cream Wars’.
“Not just isolated to Manchester, the national press soon took up these stories, colourfully embellishing them with links to the ‘Mafia’. It was not uncommon to see three or four vans at one time, all arguing as to whom the street belonged. The competition was fierce.”
A decline in manufacturing, and moving residents to other parts of the city, saw the end of Little Italy as a community, says the site.
But “the cobbled streets, the aromas of delicacies from Italian shops, cooking pastas, the sounds of barrel organs and ice cream carts, the shouts of children playing, men and women chattering, all the hustle and bustle of a colourful, happy and lively Italian community. To its ex-residents, now spread around the city, these old memories are still held dear.”