Bixiga — the Italian neighborhood in Sao Paulo


Elenice, please tell us more about Bixiga.

Bixiga… it’s one of the
most famous neighborhoods in Sao Paulo.
The first immigrants settled here in 1878.
Now it’s the traditional Italian neighborhood.

I see. Whereabouts is it in Sao Paulo?

It’s in the city center.
Bixiga is famous for its Italian restaurants…
as well as museums, theaters and markets.

I am curious if the Italian people
are still the majority of the population in the area?

Yes, it’s mostly an Italian neighborhood.

So, they speak Italian, right?

No, not really.
People there…
they speak Portuguese, mostly.

Image by Dornike at Wiki Commons, CC-BY-SA

What kind of food
do the local restaurants serve?

Oh… many different kinds of food.
But the most popular ones are…
pasta and pizza.
I think pizza is actually…
the most popular dish in Sao Paulo.
Our pizza has more cheese.

Oh… I didn’t know that.
And they do also serve Italian wine, right?

That’s right.
You can find a good Italian wine there.

Image by Fe Candia at Flickr, CC-BY

What about the prices?
How much would a dinner for two cost?

The prices are…
well… not very high…
but not very low either.

Right. So, let’s say I wanna eat a pizza…
and some wine for dinner.
How much do I have to spend?

Well, it’s about 90 reals.

OK… 90 Brazilian reals, in US dollars…
divided by three…
it’s about 30 dollars.

Yep, that’s right.

Image by gaf at Flickr, CC-BY-SA

So, did you try any other dishes in Bixiga?
Other than pizza and pasta?

Yes. They make a great lasagna.

All right. I see.
Did you have a chance to visit a local theater?

Oh… Bixiga is famous for it’s theaters.
The most famous are…
Theater Ruth Escobar
and another one is… Theater Sérgio Cardoso.

Image by Dornike at Wiki Commons, CC-BY-SA

What about local festivals?

Yes, there is a festival…
one of the most famous
traditional festivals in Sao Paulo…
it’s called Nossa Senhora da Achiropita,
or Our Lady of Achiropita.
It has been celebrated since 1926.
It happens in August every year.
This festival has it’s roots
in the Catholic tradition of local people.
It’s a tribute to the Patron Saint of Bixiga neighborhood.
There is a lot of food and the market…
and there are about 200 thousand people visiting it.

Escadaria do Bixiga. Image by Dornike at Wiki Commons, CC-BY-SA

I see. Very interesting.
Any other places you can recommend?

Yes, there is a historical place
called Escadaria do Bixiga
or the Staircase of Bixiga
It’s close to Museo do Óculos
the Museum of Glasses…
and Museu Memória do Bixiga
Oh… and the Casa da Dona Yaya
Mrs. Yaya’s house…
It’s the first building in Bixiga…
used to be a part of the local farm.
Today it is the Cutural Center
of the University of Sao Paulo.

Museu dos Oculos. Image by Dornike at Wiki Commons, CC-BY-SA

Yes, it does look like a historical neighborhood.

There are many traditional houses and stores…
One colorful area is called Caminito Brasileiro
the name is similar to Caminito,
a famous tourist spot in Buenos Aires.

Yes, this is really great.

On Sundays there is a Fair Antique of Bixiga.
It has been there since 1982.
They have about 300 stalls selling
books, furniture, clothes, jewelry.
And there are many bars and nightclubs…
many famous shows and singers.
And do you wanna know
what else makes this neighborhood famous?

Yes, I wanna know.
Tell me, please…

There is the Escola de Samba Vai Vai
the samba school…
the Champion of Paulista Carnival,
it has been the best fifteen times.

Image by Jardiel Carvalho at Flickr, CC-BY

Very interesting.
Thanks, Elenice.

No problem.
Glad to share my impressions.


Head image: LWYang at Flickr, CC-BY