The Little Italy Arkansas Heritage Museum tells the story of this pioneering community first established as Alta Villa, the high place by Italian immigrants in 1915.
Little Italy is unique in that it is Central Arkansas’s only Italian enclave," said Chris Dorer, museum chief curator, who is a native of the small community. “If you visit major cities throughout the country, they have Little Italy’s. Little Rock was still enough of a draw at the turn of the 20th century to bring this group of Italians here from the midwest. They started out mostly in Chicago after immigrating. The goal of the museum is to let people know about this really captivating piece of history.”
The story of these pioneering immigrants establishing a community in what at the time was essentially still Arkansas wilderness is as intriguing as the role Little Italy played during Prohibition.
The region’s landscape and growing conditions reminded the immigrants of their homelands of northern Italy and conditions were ripe for vineyards. The community soon became home to enough acres of grapes for four wineries. The most common variety of wine produced was Concord grape wine, which was sweet.