giovedì 6 febbraio 2014

Do as the Italians Do: Aperitivo in Florence

 by Louisa Loring

For foreigners and travelers to Italy the idea of the aperitivo is so fresh and sensible, that we begin to wonder why our own culture never adopted the idea.  If you haven’t experienced an aperitivo hands on yet, you are sure to have been witness to one, as they are hard to avoid.  Essentially, an aperitivo is the time typically between 7pm and 9:30pm in a bar where you sip on a cocktail or glass of wine.  This cocktail is like your ticket to the buffet spreads that the bar offers.  Once you have ordered, you are free to fill your plate with the various snacks and fully prepared first courses.  Whether you want to make a light dinner of it or need to tie yourself over before a late dinner, your options are endless.  You will typically see plates of cheese and meets, pasta and rice dishes, small sandwiches, crudité, salads and breads.  If you are worried that you need to get there right at opening, don’t be because they keep on refilling the bar with new plates and dishes.

Something that Italians really appreciate is taking pleasure in what they are doing and truly enjoying it.  This is nonetheless true for drinking.  They like to take their time over a long chat or discussion over good company and something to nibble on.  This concept is unfamiliar in other cultures but once unlocked, you wonder how you ever lived without it.  Aperitivi are great for students on a budget because they are very wallet friendly going for about 8 euros.  This being said, they are not just for those on a budget.  You can check out higher end places such as B.Gallo in Piazza del Duomo or SE.STO on top of the hotel Westin in Piazza Ognissanti.   If you want to mingle with the locals, head to either Santo Spirito or San Niccolò where you will find the piazzas chalk full of choices.  In Santo Spirito, check out Pop Café for a vegetarian aperitivo or Volume, which also makes sweet and savory crepes late into the night.  In San Niccolò, stop by Zoe or head further down towards the tower for many other options.  A little further off the beaten path in the Campo di Marte area is Dogali, where you can find various breads and pastas, all made by them fresh everyday.  It truly is worth the extra trek. 

The idea of an aperitivo is also something you can easily put together at home for your friends. It is a great way to invite many different people and get to know others. Try buying a couple of bottles of wine and then offering a typical Italian cocktail, the spritz, which is simply Aperol and prosecco. Plan ahead by making a few things that can be served at room temperature such as a frittata, a pasta dish and a plate of different meats and cheese accompanied by sliced bread and chips. Once guests start arriving, everything is already ready and all you have to do is enjoy your cocktail Italian style: with friends and over a good bite to eat.


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