Before the arrival of the Spaniards in Peru the place known today as the Plaza Italia was a very important ceremonial temple or huaca. Unfortunately the conquistadores destroyed this ancient site and build instead a plaza on this piece of land. In 1550 the "Iglesia Santa Ana" (Church of Santa Ana) was erected, a once glorious church that is still standing but lost its colonial beauty - back then the place was called "Plaza Santa Ana".
In the early 20th century it was renamed to Plaza Italia to honour the famous naturalist, geographer and scientist Antonio Raimondi and the many Italian immigrants that came to Peru. If you want to try or love typical Peruvian food of the coast, mountain or jungle region visit "Plaza Italia" on a Sunday. Then small stands are on one side of the plaza and the whole family can enjoy the good food of the "Feria de Comida Criolla" (creolean food feast).
The Plaza Italia is a nice place to visit, especially on weekends; it's quite safe (Police just next to the Plaza), but it is a very busy area too. So be cautious and take care of your belongings (pickpockets!) We would highly recommend to not stroll further away from the central region of Lima into Barrios Altos. That area can be quite dangerous!