December 15, 2023
The aperitivo is without a doubt, the happiest hour for Italians, it is the anticipation of an adventure, "La dolce vita" at its best.
The aperitivo is a ritual, a moment dedicated to friends, to lightheartedness, to chatting, it is undoubtedly the most iconic Italian moment.
"Let's have an aperitivo" is a phrase that expresses happiness, it expresses a moment when time stands still and a reason to celebrate is found even if it is not there, because the aperitivo is itself a celebration.
Whether it is at sunset, mid-day or before lunch, it is always aperitivo time!
The word aperitif comes from the Latin “aperitivus” and means "opening," meaning a drink that can "open up" and thus stimulate the appetite.
The drink referred to is usually an alcoholic, bitter drink accompanied by something to munch on before the main meal.
As written before "it's always aperitivo time", but dates are almost always taken between 7 and 9 p.m., to relieve stress by sipping one's favorite cocktail before we all go to dinner together.
But what are the ingredients that make an Italian aperitivo unique?
Let's start with what to drink. The most ordered drink is definitely the Aperol Spritz, a summer-colored liqueur with a citrus taste, poured in a glass filled with ice, an addition of prosecco and an orange peel. We can say that it is the most famous alcoholic drink in Italy, accompanied by the variant "Campari Spritz" in which Campari is precisely used instead of Aperol.
We can also order an Americano, or if we move further down the boot, a Negroni, or for lovers of the classics, a glass of wine or a chilled glass of beer.
But what really makes an Italian aperitivo such an indispensable feature, a characteristic that is capable of leaning toward one place or another, is the food!
There is a real debate on this topic, serving drinks accompanied by small bowls with even just chips inside is a must for every host.
If we were to take a survey on what Italians prefer as an accompaniment to their drink, I am sure that there would be no shortage of olives, peanuts, taralli, bruschetta and... the charcuterie and cheese cutting board!
The latter is a real must, a cutting board (strictly made of wood) on which typical cold cuts and cheeses are carefully arranged, depending on the region. One example among many, a cutting board with Mortadella and Prosciutto crudo, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino, usually accompanied by a couple of small bowls containing some honey and fruit compote for the cheeses.
The peculiarity of the Italian aperitivo is that the accompaniment to the drinks varies according to the region you are in, which is why if you are in Venice your Aperol Spritz will be accompanied by "Cicchetti," unique little bites that can make you enjoy typicality in a single bite, or by “Tramezzini” stuffed with the most delicious combinations.
In Florence if you order a glass of wine you will probably see it accompanied by "Coccoli," literally translated to "cuddles."
Basically these are simple balls of fried dough, but if you go beyond the appearance they too turn into a unique experience. To be eaten strictly with the hands and to be paired with whatever we like best, and that is how the fried dough balls get covered with a slice of tasty and flavorful Prosciutto crudo and a soft touch of Stracchino cheese, turning into a treat for the palate.
If we move even further south, the little bowls will be filled with olives, whether green or black, pickled or in oil, giant or small, they will never be lacking, accompanied by taralli, little rings of flour and oil, ever-present.
It is certain that Italians like to take their aperitivo outside, but there is nothing to stop us from recreating it at home, as a welcome to guests before a dinner party, for a reunion with friends, on the balcony of the house or around the sofa.
Whether it's a glass of wine, a bottle of beer taken straight from the fridge or a homemade spritz, always remember to turn a simple aperitivo into a unique ritual with an all-Italian taste.
PS: While you're here, why not give a try to our delicious vino?
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Words and Photographs by Gianina Rose