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The San Gennaro Festival

September 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

The Feast of San Gennaro is the longest running festival in New York City. It began in 1926 with the arrival of immigrants from Naples, Italy who lived along Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Revered by Neapolitans, as their protector, legend has it that vials San Gennaro’s blood liquify several times per year including on September 19. Though the festival still maintains religious significance to many attendees, it is primarily a celebration of the Italian culture that once filled the streets of the community.

little-italy-new-york-city little-italy-restaurant Little Italy, New York City © Gennaro Salamone

What was once a thriving Italian enclave, Manhattan’s Little Italy has shrunk over the decades leaving only a small section with Italian restaurants and shops. While visiting Arthur Avenue in the Bronx provides for a more authentic experience, attending the San Gennaro Festival is an opportunity to participate in a traditional street fair.

torrone-san-gennarozeppole-san-gennaro Torrone + Zeppole © Gennaro Salamone

The highlight for festival goers is eating Italian food from street vendors. Sausage and peppers, zeppole, and cuts from giant slabs of torrone are especially popular. There is also a cannoli-eating contest for those with bottomless stomachs.

italian-americans feast-of-san-gennaro Italian Americans cooking traditional sausage © Gennaro Salamone

When they’re not preparing your meal, vendors exhibit their fun-loving and uninhibited nature. It’s a much needed diversion from the crowded lines on Mulberry and the adjacent streets.

italian-horn-corno san-gennaro-statue Italian horns (corni) protect against the evil eye + Pinning of money on San Gennaro © Gennaro Salamone

For individuals who are more interested in the religious aspects of the San Gennaro, a mass is held on the official Saint Day (September 19) at the Most Precious Blood Church followed by a procession. It is tradition to pin money on the statue of San Gennaro as a donation to the church.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.


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12 Responses to “The San Gennaro Festival”
  1. Jenna says:

    Love the festival! I go every year and eat everything in site. I really liked your write up. Learned a few things.

    The photos of that vendor are great. Looks like a fun guy. I’ll look out for him this weekend.

  2. George says:

    It’s a fun feast. I’ve been a couple of times and it’s filled with colorful people and lots of good food. That torrone shot has me wanting to get out of the office and run over to Mulberry.

  3. Anna Smith says:

    Arthur Avenue or parts of Bensonhurst are better to visit during the year, but Little Italy on Mulberry is good especially on the religious procession day. That’s still how they do in places like Italy and Spain. Walking the street with the statue being held by a group.

  4. Jen Laceda says:

    We went to NYC last month and stayed around the chinatown / little italy area. loved the energy around there! glad to see little italy still alive and kicking – but for how much longer, though? i think i’ve been watching one too many episodes of Jersey Shore!!

  5. Andi says:

    It is worth going for the food alone!!!

  6. Gennaro says:


    Yep, he is quite the character.



    @Anna Smith

    Very similar. Though the route tends to be longer in Spain and Italy.

  7. Gennaro says:


    Not much longer. The Italian enclaves are almost gone. Most have assimilated.



  8. Ayngelina says:

    Looks like a fantastic festival but I had to laugh at the guy wearing the mexican wrestling mask.

  9. Gennaro says:

    @Ayngelina – Yep, he was very entertaining. Had to pull out the camera for him.

  10. It’s sad to hear Little Italy has gotten smaller, but I bet those who continue to celebrate make up for that with more zest per person!

    That torrone looks really really yummy for a girl like me with a sweet tooth. Actually, ALL my teeth are sweet.

    Love presentation of colorful pix here too, Gennaro!

  11. Gennaro says:

    @Jannie Funster – Thanks. Love torrone too.


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  1. San Gennaro Festival Photos…

    The highlight for festival goers is eating Italian food from street vendors. Sausage and peppers, zeppole, and cuts from giant slabs of torrone are especially popular….