San Diego’s Little Italy. Historically, Little Italy served as home to Italian fishermen and their families. From the 19th century to the 1970s, people from Italy led in building the boats to found the American tuna fishing fleet & canning industry based in San Diego. The Pacific Tuna Canning Company, was founded in 1911. Many Italians relocated to San Diego from San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in search of tuna and other deep-sea sport as well as commercial fishing.