You’re in Italy and you’ve been sightseeing, shopping, or simply strolling around at leisure, exploring every nook and cranny that catches your eye. Time flies when you suddenly realize it’s early evening but not yet time for dinner, and you’re wondering what to do.
How about having an aperitivo ? It’s a great way to experience local culture, to people-watch, and to enjoy a summer sunset sitting in one of our breathtaking squares. Come join us in what we Italians consider almost a ritual after a long day’s labor.
But what exactly do you know about drinking an aperitivo in Italy? For us it’s an hour, maybe two, of pure pleasure, something we look forward to after work. The sound of friends welcoming each other, clinking glasses, and laughter is what you’ll hear.
You must keep in mind that we eat dinner later than in the US, around 8 pm, and generally the time for an aperitivo is between 6 pm and 9 pm . If your first thought was ‘happy hour’, you were almost right. The difference is that there is much more emphasis on the food aspect, and unlike American ‘happy hours’, there are no discounts. It’s a different philosophy.
In Italy aperitivo is the name for both the ritual of going out for a drink before dinner as well as the type of drink you would probably have. The drinks are usually low in alcohol content and dry rather than sweet. (Prosecco or a light white wine mixed with Campari or Aperol create respectively ‘Campari Spritz’ or ‘Aperol Spritz’ which are typical of northeastern Italy). Italian food and drink customs are very regional. You can also have a glass of wine as an aperitivo. Bars are offering an increasingly wider variety of wine by the glass.
Such a ritual has an important role in Italian social life and is much about the food and drink as it is about socializing.Traditionally a small bowl of chips, olives, peanuts, and sometimes other foods are offered free of charge.
There’s also a new trend that we want to write to you about. It’s becoming more and more popular for bars to do an ‘apericena’. Apericena is the combination of the two words ‘aperitivo’ and ‘cena’ (dinner). You pay for your drinks (in some places they’ll charge you a bit more) but you’re entitled to head over to the buffet and sample the bar’s array of appetizers, which are truly mouthwatering, and can range from small squares of pizza, pasta, to vegetable salads, and salami. You can actually decide to dine this way.
Aperitivo is a wonderful tradition, and once you’re back in the US why not organize an Italian style aperitivo with our Candoni wines and some simple finger foods like the ones that will appear in our next blog post? Stay tuned.
Bring Italy back with you and remember and share your fun vacation with friends and family.