While I live in a solidly Midwestern town, just about a mile from my house, is an small international village, so to speak. It was a town settled by Italians around the turn of the 1900's, versus my town which was settled by Presbyterians, in the early 1800's. (A much more staid bunch.)
The houses are built out of stucco, stone and sweat. The yards are small, but every inch counts. It has a Southern Italy sense about it. While there is no ocean edge, we do have Lake Michigan, which I would think, might feel like the sea.
These fine Italians, came and showed us how to garden, make pasta, and enjoy wine. They have done a stellar job, and we are better for their efforts.
The evidence of these facts are clearly shown by the names of the restaurants; Scornavacos, Maria's Bakery, Papagallos, and Two Guys from Italy. Or landscaping companies: Mariani, Fiore, Puccio, to name a few.
The streets are lines with flower beds which also house; zucchini, tomato, pole beans,and cucumber plants. It charms me when I see then sprawling over the fences and climbing up trellises.
Not so much these days, but when I was much younger, I would see small women, hair covered by black
scarves, sweeping the sidewalks in front of their houses. There were holly hocks dwarfing the front porches, sunflowers dwarfing the hollyhocks, and all of the flowers dwarfing these industrious women. A colorful view.
Now, this town is home to a new wave of immigrants, Hispanic. These two cultures have melded well. Now one finds next door to Italian establishments: taquerias, Super Mercados, and, Panaderias.
It is the age old American story, we almost all came from some where else, hoping to find a safe place to raise our children, a community to call out own, and a hope for a more prosperous future.