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EXPLORE HISTORY — AND ITALIAN FLAVOR — IN THE NORTH END

EXPLORE HISTORY — AND ITALIAN FLAVOR — IN THE NORTH ENDThe North End is home to window boxes, winding streets, Italian ristorantes — and two notable Freedom Trail stops: the Old North Church and the Paul Revere House. The church (617-523-6676, oldnorth.com) is actually part of a trio of historic buildings. At Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop, you can learn how chocolate was made in the 18th century and enjoy a free sample; at the Printing Office of Edes & Gill, you can experience a working Colonial-era print shop. The church itself offers half-hour guided tours (Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., limited schedule on Sundays starting in early afternoon) and, on its website, a self-guided tour you can follow via your smartphone.

At the Paul Revere House (617-523-2338, paulreverehouse.org), where the midnight rider and his family lived off and on between 1770 and 1800, four rooms are open to the public and tours are self-guided. The Colonial cookware in the kitchen is especially fascinating to kids.

The North End is just one of 20 stops made by the knowledgeable (and funny) conductors of Old Town Trolley Tours (855-396-7433, trolleytours.com/boston). Ticket prices ($36.86 for adults and $17.96 for kids if you buy online) include admission to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum (see “Make the Most of the Waterfront”).

Or you can combine lunch and sightseeing with a Boston Pizza Tour (800-979-3370, bostonpizzatours.com). During the 2½-hour walk, you’ll see North End Freedom Trail landmarks and sample slices from some of Boston’s best pizzerias, such as the original Pizzeria Regina . Guides customize itineraries based on the day of the week and the size and pizza preferences of your group, so each tour is unique.

There’s a longstanding debate about which North End pastry palace is better: Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry. Try both and settle it for yourself. At Mike’s (617-742-3050, mikespastry.com), go for the classic cannoli (con chocolate chips, of course), with a flaky shell and just-sweet-enough ricotta filling. At Modern (617-523-3783, modernpastry.com), the specialty is the sfogliatella (if your Italian’s rusty, just ask for a lobster tail), filled with either real heavenly clouds or creamy custard — it’s hard to tell.

When dinnertime arrives, the intimate yet family-friendly Antico Forno (617-723-6733, anticofornoboston.com) bakes authentic pizza and pasta dishes in a wood-fired oven. Even the pickiest eaters will enjoy the tender gnocchi covered in a rich tomato sauce and bubbling mozzarella

Trying to find parking in the North End is an experience best avoided, so take the Orange or Green Line to Haymarket Station. From there, Hanover Street, the North End’s main thoroughfare, is less than 10 minutes away. Atop the Orange Line Haymarket Station is the new indoor Boston Public Market (617-973-4909, bostonpublicmarket.org), where you can browse almost 40 vendors selling only locally made products, including Q’s Nuts (the Mexican chocolate almonds are addictive) and Mange, which offers amazing fruit vinegars (the mango is revelatory). Some vendors are doing special programming for kids during April vacation week. Pro tip: The Parcel 7 Parking Garage, above the market, charges $3 for up to three hours with proof of purchase.

Source: Boston Globe Magazine

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