Destination: Modena, Monterosso al Mare and Rome
Mode of Transport: Aperitivo in Italy
I’ve been back in NYC for two weeks now and although I spent the whole month of July in Italy , I really miss my holiday.
The first week, I traveled to Milan and Venice with my 10-year-old daughter. The week after that, my sister and her son joined us in Florence and Tuscany. During the first two weeks, I very rarely indulged in wine or any other cocktail.
It just doesn’t feel good to drink alone – don’t you agree? Also, during the second week of travel, I was the designated driver during our family travels. Although my sister drives, she doesn’t drive manual cars. Renting an automatic car anywhere else but the USA costs more! So, we opted to save money and just have me as the lone driver.
Here I was, in one of the best wine regions in the world, and I couldn’t have any wine or any other Italian drinks! I longingly watched others sipping their wines with their meals and I have to admit – there were times that I really wanted a glass!
My sister now tells a funny story of me just saying “si” every time I was offered a refill of wine. Even if my glass was still full, I grabbed another one to fill! But I was finally able to drink and NOT HAVE to drive because I was already at my temporary home for the evening!
The third week, my husband was finally able to join us on our family travels in Italy, so we unloaded the car and traveled by train, a great way to travels with kids, by the way. We met in Bologna and took the train to Modena.
Andrew wanted to have a proper drink during Aperitivo (sort of like a happy hour) when we arrived. Now that my husband had joined me AND I didn’t have to drive, I was free to enjoy a cocktail.
A little history about Aperitivo hour in Italy: According to Emiko Davies, “Aperitivo” is the name for both the ritual of going out for a pre-dinner drink, as well as the sort of drink that you would probably have at such a ritual. Aperitivo comes from the Latin word meaning “to open,” and in Italian, you still describe the effect of something appetizing.
Emiko also mentioned that “unsurprisingly, the people credited with inventing the aperitivo ritual were also the creators of the ideal aperitivo beverages – Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the creator of Vermouth, in Torino in 1786…”
Wow – this ritual really goes back in time, and to this day, my Italian friends tell me that aperitivo is to “open up” the stomach to prepare it for dinner. Interestingly, my friend Sylvana from Puglia, in the south of Italy, says aperitivo means the same in the south – except they have it before lunch.
The most exciting one we had in Modena was at Mon Cafe. To follow the locals, we ordered the Spritz, which is Aperol, prosecco and soda; so delicious! It became our aperitivo choice for the rest of the holiday.
Then came the dishes, which were free! The quality of food that was brought out to us to nibble on with our drinks was incredible! It makes sense; they don’t want people intoxicated, they just want to whet your appetite.
After Modena, we traveled to Monterosso al Mare. There was a bar right next to our hotel called Bar Da Eliseo, which we visited almost daily for aperitivo hour. Their spread was not as plentiful, but it was the perfect amount of snacks right before dinner.
In Rome, we visited several different restaurants that all had fantastic food to go along with our Spritz, our favorite being at Cafe Greco. The day we returned home, we purchased Aperol and prosecco from our local wine merchant, Di Palo’s, and recreated our beloved aperitivo hour!
Unfortunately, we live in NYC, where a cocktail like a Spritz is about $10-$15 a glass, with no food involved. So, we make our Spritz at home and prepare our own snacks and dishes in order to transport ourselves to that special place, aperitivo time.
If you’ve been to Italy, did you experience the aperitivo? Do you have a spot to recommend? If you’re in NYC, do you know of a restaurant that has replicated the aperitivo hour?
Let’s travel the world, one dish at a time! Did you like this “dish”? Please share it with your friends – I would be so grateful!
In Rome, we stayed at a fantastic boutique hotel named Hotel Nerva in the Monti Area, which was an awesome neighborhood because it is walking distance to all the tourist sights AND there are so many fantastic local restaurants who cater to the Romans as opposed to tourists.