I was woken up by knocking at the door. When I opened it there were 4 policemen! They were doing a door to door knock looking for a missing person - a bit of excitement in sleepy Scarsdale.
Today I am in the Bronx, Fordham to be exact. There is nothing gentrified about this area, there is security grills on every window and extensive use of barbed wire and caging in yards. Police patrol every few minutes and there is alot of loud rap music coming from cars, men with chains and gangsta fashion, and men loitering without a purpose. Why am I here? I've heard that this is the area the Italians have moved to and is the real little Italy with zero tourists. This area is so off the tourist grid I had to get detailed directions from the police as I have no maps.
And I have found the real thing. There is an unassuming mercato with all the good imports from Italy including broken up torrone, and a really nice looking panini shop. I am saving myself for lunch at a highly recommended local restaurant that specializes in wood fired pizza. So I am happy to just pick up a few groceries. There is an old Italian guy at the entrance playing on a rickety grand piano, just behind him a cigar and tobacco rolling station, and then a bar getting ready for aperitif hour. - not your usual supermarket.
Lunch is at Zero Otto Nove, and I have a potato, porcini and smoked fresh mozzarella pizza with a glass of prosecco. So good! And so good to see this really does exist outside of the touristy take on little Italy. My next stop is the Bronx zoo, but this part of the neighbourhood is so interesting I walk the 10 blocks distance to the zoo, past a whole host of Italian businesses including mozzarella and pasta makers and plenty of dolci and gelato places.
Today is entrance to the zoo by donation, and it is absolutely swarming with kids. It's much bigger than I thought it would be, and you do feel very removed from the city. The best animal bits were the flamingoes, the very active tiger, the in heat peacocks all putting on magnificent displays for the disinterested peahens, the lion that kept staring at me, the red panda that liked to show off, and the polar bear who had the biggest paws.
I walked back to the train station along the road that had the university and the Bronx botanical gardens on it, a much better part of town, but there is still an atmosphere of danger and discomfort in the air, I definitely would not want to live in this part of New York.