Bensonhurst is located in the South-West area of Brooklyn and is known as the little Italy of the county. Thousands of Italian immigrants settled here in the 1950's and the census in 2000 showed that over 50,000 Italian Americans still live in the borough, 20,000 of these Italian speaking.
The heart of this Italian community is 18th Avenue and this is where the annual festival of Santa Rosalia is held at the end of summer. Santa Rosalia is the patron saint of Palermo which is representative of the fact that a large percentage of the neighbourhood's residents are from Sicily. In fact the Society of Santa Rosalia is actually located in Bensonhurst and Sicilians who travel from all over New York for the event simply call it 'The Feast' or 'Il Festino della Santuzza'. Every year hundreds of stalls line 18th Avenue selling all manner of delicacies such as Italian sausage, zeppole (fried dough balls), cannoli and gelato.
There are many Italian societies in this part of Brooklyn such as 'I Figli di Sciacca' and many cafes have rooms where fellow Sicilians unite and speak the local dialect. A large selection of Italian shops can be found among the tree lined avenues, ranging from bakeries and delis to those selling Italian imported clothes and shoes.