Un italiano all’estero: An Italian Abroad, Part III

Wall_Street_-_New_York_Stock_Exchange

Lorenzo will be joining our team for the next few months, this is the first time he is in New York City and will be periodically checking in with us on his experience here in the States.

When you look what happens along the main avenues of Manhattan, certainly there are three things that remain imprinted in your mind: the neon billboards, huge buildings, and the buses that constantly populate the main areas of New York. So – after visiting Midtown – I decided it was time to discover Downtown. I bought a ticket for the City Sightseeing New York double decker bus, and headed down! The tour lasted around two and a half hours, but you can see a lot of beautiful things and different districts, allowing you to better plan your future activities centered around what attracted you the most! The tour starts with the sight of Times Square and continue to Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Chelsea district and West Village. After that began the discovery of the most well-known districts of Downtown, Soho and the Financial District (for people like me that love economics), continuing into China Town and Little Italy, ending at the United Nations’ building. Amazing!

Always keep the camera in your hands because once you make it home and see the pictures again, you’ll want to start planning immediately the next days!

So it has been for me, waiting for see again those places lit by the moon.

 

———-

 

Quando osservi cosa ti gira intorno mentre cammini per le vie principali di Manhattan, sicuramente sono tre le cose che rimangono più impresse: i numerosi cartelloni pubblicitari, gli enormi edifici e i bus turistici che popolano costantemente tutte le zone principali di New York.

Così – dopo aver visitato Midtown – ho deciso che era il momento di farsi un tour per Downtown! Ho acquistato un biglietto per il bus City Sightseeing New York e sono partito! Il tour é durato circa 2 ore e mezzo, ma si riescono a vedere un sacco di cose belle, un sacco di quartieri diversi, così da poter pianificare al meglio i futuri spostamenti nei posti che più ci hanno colpito!

Si inizia con Times Square per continuare con Madison Square Garden, Empire State Building, Chelsea e il West Village. Comincia adesso la vera scoperta dei quartieri più noti e caratteristici di Downtown passando per Soho, fino al Financial District (per chi come me é appassionato di economia) per poi continuare visitando China Town e Little Italy, fino alla sede generale delle Nazioni Unite.

Tenete sempre in mano la macchina fotografica perché quando tornerete a casa e riguarderete tutti i posti che avete visitato, comincerete sicuramente a pianificare le prossime uscite.

Così é stato per me, in attesa di vederli nuovamente illuminati dalla luna.

Advertisements

Off The Beaten Path: Brooklyn Flea Market

Brooklyn Flea 1

Lamps, tables, WWE Wrestlers, cufflinks and one of a kind artwork. These are all things I came across as I visited the Brooklyn Flea market this past week. I can hands down say it’s one of the coolest treasures of New York City. It still being winter, the Brooklyn Flea has been tucked away in a more or less abandoned building in Williamsburg. In a few weeks it will spread out to their tremendous three locations in Fort Greene, Williamsburg and Park Slope. Each location has over 150 vendors and some great food, so shop and work up a large appetite!

The Brooklyn Flea has been around since 2008 and has grown its reputation over the years. One of things I was most impressed with is the quality of goods that were being sold. This was not your mom and pop garage sale. If you’re not a New Yorker and just visiting, this is also a great place to get one of a kind souvenirs or some of the vendors will even ship some of the larger items home for you so you will always have your own piece of New York!

You can find out all the information you need here: http://www.brooklynflea.com/

Brooklyn Flea 2

Un italiano all’estero: An Italian Abroad

times square at night

Lorenzo will be joining our team for the next few months, this is the first time he is in New York City and will be periodically checking in with us on his experience here in the States.

It’s my first time in New York, I’m a tourist and I like to discover new things, new realities. My first impression, as soon as I arrived in Times Square, was: “Wow! It is like being constantly in the middle of a concert!” Everything is completly different from what I’m used to seeing everyday: neon billboards, advertising, people on the street disguised as cartoon characters, skylines.

All these things don’t exist in my country.

I think that if we turn-off all these lights, in a second we will understand that New York is just high buildings and cement, all the magic would be lost. But one thing is certain: New York has its own identity, its own uniqueness. And I like it!

Please director, don’t turn off the lights!

times square night

E’ la prima volta che vengo a New York, sono un turista e mi piace scoprire cose nuove, nuove realtà. La prima impressione che ho avuto appena giunto in Times Square è che vivere qua è come essere perennemente nel bel mezzo di un concerto. Tutto è totalmente diverso da ciò che sono abituato a vedere normalmente: megaschermi illuminati ovunque, pubblicità, persone per strada trasvestite da personaggi dei cartoni animati, grattacieli. Tutto questo non esiste nel mio paese.

Penso che se spegnessimo tutte quante queste luci, in un istante ci renderemo conto che New York è soltanto alti edifici e cemento, forse perderebbe ogni magia. Ma credo che, indipendentemente dai gusti, una cosa è certa: New York ha una sua identità, una sua unicità. E mi piace.

Chiedo al regista di non spegnere mai le luci!

Off The Beaten Path: Rucker Park

Up in Harlem on 155th Street lies a sheet of blacktop more sacred than most. Like the thousands around the country, Rucker Park is a basketball court where our neighborhoods youth can show up, practice their skills, challenge their peers, and have fun. Unlike the thousands of basketball courts around the country, Rucker Park is special. Rucker Park takes basketball to the next level. Rucker Park is where you go to play if you’re the best in the neighborhood. Rucker Park is the best streetball court in the world.

Built right across the street from the old Polo Grounds, Rucker Park has become such a basketball talent trove that the games played each night under the lights draw crowds in the hundreds. When you catch a game on this hallowed ground, you may not know who you’re watching, but the talent level is so off the charts that chances are you’ll be seeing them in the NBA sometime soon.

Dr J. at Rucker Park

Legends who have played at Rucker Park in their high school days include Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Ron Artest. In 2011, during the NBA Lockout, OKC Thunder star Kevin Durant famously stopped by the park and set the place on fire in what has become one of the most memorable scenes of the park’s history.

Now, I’m not saying the next NBA MVP is going to drop in while you’re there catching a game, but this is the type of talent and respect Rucker Park gets from the basketball community. Next time you’re in NYC and looking to go off the beaten path, head up to Rucker Park because you never know what you might see.

Have you ever been to Rucker Park? Tell us where you go off the beaten path in NYC on twitter at @CitySightsNY!

NYC Off The Beaten Path: Fort Tryon Park

Way up on the north end of the isle of Manhattan lays a beautiful little park along the Hudson River known as Fort Tryon Park. You may not have ever heard of it, and chances are even less likely that you’ve been there if you aren’t from NYC, but if you’re visiting our great city and looking to go off the beaten path for a bit, Fort Tryon Park is one of your best options.

Fort Tryon Park is a riverside park all the way up on 190th Street extending to Dyckman Street. It is far past the normal sightseeing venues of Manhattan and even further north geographically than most of the sights in The Bronx. The land on the Hudson was a key site during the Battle of Fort Washington during the American Revolution. Though the British ultimately won the battle and the fort was subsequently named after British Governor, Sir William Tryon, that’s still pretty cool stuff.

Now Fort Tryon Park is home to The Cloisters, one of the best, and often most overlooked, sights in NYC. The Cloisters are part of The Met and focus on architecture and artifacts from the Medieval European times. They actually have building on the site that were once European abbeys disassembled, shipped to NYC, then put back together. Why they would do this, I’m not entirely sure, but how cool is it to get a little of the old school European culture right here in NYC?

The Cloisters really do have an amazing collection of works, so it is definitely worth the visit.

cloisters

Fort Tryon Park also remains one of the best spots to view the beautiful New Jersey Palisades, directly cross the river. Visit Fort Tryon Park in the autumn and see some of the most awe-inspiring fall foliage New York has to offer. It’s truly beautiful.

Where do you go in NYC to get off the beaten path? Have you ever been to Fort Tryon Park? Tell us where you’d go and share some pictures with us Twitter at @CitysightsNY

NYC Borough Series: Queens

Queens, New York. Home of the Mets, LL Cool J, and the best Greek food in NYC. Kevin James was the King and it’s where Run-DMC celebrated Christmas. Some people like to call it the new Brooklyn, but truth is this borough already has its own identity. It doesn’t need to borrow from anyone else. Of the five boroughs, I’d personally suggest that Queens is the most underrated. From Long Island City to Flushing Meadows, the home of the 7 train has so much to offer

5 Fast Facts:

  • Both of NYC’s major airports (JFK and LGA) are in Queens
  • The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows was left from the 1964 World’s Fair
  • Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, with residents from over 100 different countries speaking 138 different languages
  • Queens hosts the greatest annual American tennis tournament every year, the US Open
  • On of Astoria’s main drags, Steinway Street, is named after the famed piano maker whose world headquarters are located in the neighborhood

Food

image via flickr / kthread

image via flickr / kthread

We start our food tour of Queens in Astoria, the neighborhood resting on the East River. In the 1970’s, an influx of Greek immigrants came from Cyprus to call the neighborhood home. The best Greek diners, deli’s, cafes and bakeries in all of NYC can be found in Astoria. The neighborhood also has developed a strong Arab population, so much so that the stretch of Steinway north of 28th street is sometimes referred to as Little Egypt.

As we venture east, we begin to find more and more eastern Indian restaurants. India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia- all of these cuisines are represented wholeheartedly in Queens.

Once we get to the end of the 7 Line, we hit Flushing. Much like Little Italy is to Arthur Avenue, Chinatown is to Flushing. The Asian population in Flushing is strong, and they have some of the best Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean food in the country.

Now let’s jump back to Astoria for a second. Though it’s technically not ‘food’ per se, Astoria is home to the two best beer gardens in NYC, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden and Studio Square Beer Garden. Definitely worth making a stop at these places during a summer Queens food tour.

Tourism

Jump on the R train in Manhattan going uptown and you will find yourself on your way to one of the coolest museums in NYC. The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria highlights television and film among other things in its beautiful Queens space. They recently had a Breaking Bad exhibition (which was awesome) and regularly host Q&A events with some of the top people in entertainment. They also have a theater with screening of classic such as Pulp Fiction and Saturday night fever, both coming up as part of their Soundtrack Series.

Sports

shutterstock_56011279

Mr. Met

Flushing is the Queens home of all things sports. First you have Citi Filed where the New York Mets play 81 games each season. In 2013, Citi Field also hosted the MLB All-Star Game.

Right across the street from Citi Field is Flushing Meadows Park, which is also home to the US Open Tennis Tournament. Arthur Ashe Stadium is the focal point of the US Open grounds holding over 22,000 spectators.

In 2013, there was also a push to build a new soccer stadium for the MLS expansion team, NYC FC, but it looks like that idea has been shot down.

Parks

Queens is home to some of the most beautiful parks in all of NYC, though I suppose so is every other borough. NYC is really good at parks. But Queens Flushing Meadows Corona Park might just take the cake. The park was the host of both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the second of which left behind one of NYC’s coolest monuments, the Unisphere. The park was actually built on the area known as the “valley of ashes” from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and is now a flourishing space of green.

Just outside of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, you will find the Queens Botanical Garden as well as Kissena Park and Golf Course. You can’t play a round of 18 in Manhattan, can you?

Pop Culture

Queens doesn’t have the iconic pop culture history of Manhattan or Brooklyn, but you’d be surprised where you might find it in the entertainment world. Did you know A Bronx Tale was largely shot in Astoria? How about that scene in Men in Black where the alien spaceship crashes through the Unisphere.

Ride of Fame alum LL Cool J grew up in Queens, as did rappers Ja Rule, 50 Cent, and Nicki Minaj. Donald Trump has roots going back to Queens just like Simon & Garfunkel and Adrien Brody.

So what’s your favorite of Queens? Tell is on twitter at @CitySightNY!

NYC Borough Series: Staten Island

Staten Island Ferry Terminal

Staten Island Ferry Terminal

When people think New York City, their minds often don’t wander past the island of Manhattan. The problem is, NYC consists of five boroughs and Manhattan is just one of them. Sure, Manhattan is the one with the famous skyline, the buildings with names you recognize, and the sights you recall from movies, but the other boroughs have quite a bit to offer on their own.

Located in the southwest most part of the city, Staten Island is the least populated borough of them all yet the one that would surprise you most. Full of history, culture, great food and community, Staten Island has many stories to tell under its green facade. Let’s drop the stereotypes, hop in a car (yes, Staten Island is probably the borough most dependent on cars), head across the Verrazano Bridge and take a look at what this Island has to offer.

 5 Fast Facts:

  • The East Shore is home to the F.D.R. Boardwalk which is the fourth longest in the world
  • Staten Island is the only borough not connected to the subway system but there is a ferry, train and buses
  • Staten Island is 34.7% Italians, which will benefit us in the food section of this article
  • There is over 26,000 acres of parks on Staten Island
  • Staten Island was originally named by Henry Hudson who called it “Statten Eylandt”
Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

Tourism

Staten Island makes a great day trip if you are staying in the city. Just hop on the Staten Island Ferry down on Whitehall Street and in 25 minutes you’ll find yourself a world away from the hustle of the city but when you turn around you’ll have the best views of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline. Right off the ferry you can find Staten Island Yankee Stadium which makes for a perfect summer night. Make your way a few blocks away from the Stadium and you’ll find the historic St. George Theatre which offers everything from concerts, Broadway-like shows and comedians.

If you get a little adventurous and want to explore the Island a bit, here are some of the highlights:

–          Old Richmond Town – Some of the earliest settlers made their way to Staten Island and we are lucky enough to have it preserved. Visitors can walk through this town which also has a staff dressed to the time period showing what their way of life would have been back then.

–          Staten Island Zoo – Not only does this Zoo have New York City’s official Groundhog but they have tons of free family events once inside the zoo and not to forget a pretty cool petting zoo.

–          Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden – Located not far from the Ferry, this little piece of paradise is one of the most beautiful pieces of property in all of New York City. From beautiful architecture to unmatched greenery, this is the “crown jewel’” of Staten Island.

Food

Remember earlier when I told you more than one-third of Staten Island were Italian? Well here is the part where that becomes extremely useful. Food: the one thing Staten Islanders never mess with, no matter what their culture is. The Island has some of the most underrated restaurants in New York City that not only have amazing dishes but every restaurant will make you feel like your home. One night, step away from the city and make your way to some of the tastiest dining experiences you will ever have. Top restaurants include Marina Café, Angelina’s, Nove Italian Bistro and Crown Palace.

Pop Culture

Here is something fun – think you’ve never seen Staten Island? Well think again, some of your favorite shows and movies have used Staten Island as their backdrop. Most recently Lorne Michaels started filming a comedy called “Staten Island Summer” due out this year. And hometown celebrity heroes, there are a few of those too! Here are a few highlights:

–          “The Godfather” – The eight bedroom home belonging to the Carleone clan rest in Todt Hill

–          “War of the Worlds” – This Spielberg and Tom Cruise movie filmed a crash action scene on one of the small highways on Staten Island.

–          “School of Rock” – One of the concert scenes were filmed in the St. George Theatre

That’s just to name a few, almost on a daily basis you can find Law & Order, Person of Interest, Blue Bloods or Elementary. Maybe you’ll just run into your favorite show when visiting Staten Island!