You may have heard of the Italian tradition of the aperitivo, but what is it? I recently went on an "Aperitivo Tour" while in Florence to gain some insight and get a real Florentine perspective on what it means.
You could compare it to the American Happy Hour but that would be selling it short. It is a tradition observed all around Italy that serves as an "opener" to your dinner meal. Typically starting around 6pm and going until 8 or 9 pm, it's a great excuse to meet up with friends after work. It will hold your hunger until Italian dinner time, which starts around 9:00 pm.
The most popular drinks are acidic wines or prosecco to stimulate the appetite or craft cocktails that are normally on the bitter side and pair well with salty bites. While walking down the street we saw packed bars bustling with happy people and conversation. Our guide picked great spots and we even got some history lessons along the way! For instance, there are little "windows" you can still see around Florence-they were used to sell wine. Can't you imagine yourself walking up to one of these windows to purchase a couple bottles of wine? You could even enjoy a glass or two while you were waiting for them to pull the bottles from the cellar. Many of the cellars behind the windows still exist today.
The types of snacks vary from chips to cheeses/charcuterie and even sandwiches and pasta. You should only fill up your plate once per drink purchased. Some tourists have been known to buy one drink and eat a full meal-this is considered rude and not the point of enjoying the aperitivo. It's about being part of a community and taking time for friends.
If you are visiting I highly suggest taking part in this tradition. You can take a break after a long day of walking/sight-seeing or just sit with the locals and people watch.
Story by: Dionne Foote