Postcard from... New York


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The Independent Online

There’s not much of Manhattan’s Little Italy left, mainly a couple of blocks, populated with Italian restaurants and tourist stores featuring trinkets and “Kiss me, I’m Italian” and “Fuggedaboutit” T-shirts. Few Italian-Americans still live in the neighbourhood of old tenement buildings and narrow streets, where a small museum tries to keep a fading ethnic heritage alive.

One such tenant who remains might not for long: an 85-year-old Italian-American grandmother who has lived in Little Italy for more than 50 years says she is being forced out by her landlord. That landlord? The Italian American Museum.

“Why would you want to throw me out when I lived here all my life?” asked Adele Sarno, a feisty, raspy-voiced woman who proudly tells how she once served as queen of Little Italy’s most well-known event, the annual Feast of San Gennaro. “This is my neighbourhood.”

In 2010, she received a letter seeking to increase her rent from $850 (£570) a month to $3,500, far more than the retired shopkeeper says she can afford. The spat is the latest involving the museum to cause a commotion in Little Italy. An Italian restaurant that had been open for decades closed last week in a separate rent-related dispute. AP