My Summer of Aperitivos

Hi guys ☺

I hope you are all doing great!Summer

I mean, it is summer after all so no matter what you are going through right now, try to breathe in the sunshine and enjoy it while it lasts. Forget the grey winter, the long dark hours  and the short days..

This is the right time of the year to rejuvenate and to think positive. In a time where the world is (literally) upside down, where wars seem to come closer and closer, where presidents stopped fighting for their people and where the gap between the rich and the poor is at an ever high level there is only one thing we can do. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the small things.

Now, having that in mind, what is the first though that comes to your head when I say “summer”?

Most of you will likely say “the beach”, “sand”, “the ocean” … others will think “good weather”, some might say “happiness”. Well, yes these are all legitimate thoughts, but I guess I am a little weird and think of Aperitivo ☺

Yup, you read that well… I know it sounds strange right? I mean, what the heck. Who relates summer to alcohol? Probably not a girl in her right mind !

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Then again, “Aperitivo” is not alcohol to me..it does actually not relate to alcohol at all in my head. It is not that cold Aperol Spritz you enjoy on a terrace in Mykonos, and it is not the cold Hugo served in a Frankfurter bar.  Aperitivo is more of an experience than a drink. Unfortunately an experience you can only have in one country: Italy.

No other country does it better,  you should definitely do the Aperitivo the Italian way. Not the Spanish, not the American nor the Arab rich kids way… go for the dolce vita style. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. I will tell you in a second. But before that let me give you a couple of fun facts about the story behind the real aperitivo.  

First of all let me show off my linguistic skills by telling you the meaning of the word (thanks, dictionary!). The word “Aperitivo” comes from the Latin “aperire”, or Italian “aprire” which means to open. In this case you are “opening” your stomach (ew??), mostly before dinner. Back in the 18th century the best drink to do that was said to be Vermouth, invented by Antonio Carpano in Turin. Since then this everlasting tradition evolved and became a real trademark of the Italian way.

What makes the Aperitivo time special is not actually the drink, but the little snacks that come with it. At the aperitivo time most bars slightly inflate the drink prices (I would say they are still reasonably priced though!) and offer you some snacks to it. The snacks vary according to the region you find yourself in and are always complimentary. And for the record… the snacks are not only made of chips and peanuts! You get mini pizzas, mini focaccias, giant olives, and some other specialties.

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If you want to take it one step further you can go for something called “Apericena”. The word is a mixture between “aperitvo” and “cena” (the Italian word for dinner). This is a bit more pricy than a simple aperitivo but it is well worth it. You basically pay a fix price, let´s say 20EUR, and you get a drink plus a choice of different finger food options in an open buffet style. That´s perfect for those who know won´t have time for dinner after the aperitivo, or know they will not be able to take that extra pasta anymore.

Here are my top 3 favourite aperitivo bars so far (trust me, I tried a few, and though you can almost never go wrong, here you will certainly be super happy)

  • Panella: Rome 
  • Le Bocche: Porto Venere
  • Bar Basso: Milano

 

Last, but not least… what should you drink.. oh well, I might be a little old school but for the Aperitivo I always go for the classic Aperol Spritz ☺

If you have a few places you could recommend as well, pls write them below in the comments or send me an email!

Cheers!

Pete x

 

PS: Want to enjoy your drink in the comfort of your home? No problem, here is how to prepare the perfect Aperol Spritz.

Ingredients:

  • Prosecco (3/5)
  • Soda Water (1/5)
  • Aperol (1/5 or ajust to taste)
  • Ice, ice, ice
  • Orange slices

Pour the beverages over ice and top with an orange slice 😉 

Enjoy, and CIN CIN! 

 

Italy´s Neverland: the Cinque Terre

My first traveling tip is about my motherland, Italy. To be precise I was born in Carrara, Tuscany, but the Cinque Terre is not far away from there.

I have spent so many summers gazing at the colorful and happy houses, that I think it is such a shame not to share this experience. Anyone who is planning a trip to Europe should try to visit this magical place.

But what are the Cinque Terre exactly? Well, they are a 12 km long village compound on the North West (sorry Kim ..) coast of Italy. The compound is formed of five villages (from south to north), namely Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

Together with Porto Venere (a village adjacent to Riomaggiore), the Cinque Terre – with their beautiful landscape and steep vineyards, are an Unesco World Heritage site.

It is very important to know that they are not accessible by car, so in case you hit the road and travel around Italy (like I enjoy doing sometimes) I recommend staying in Porto Venere, which is a beautiful site, and is accessible as well.  At Porto Venere´s port you can take ferries to different destinations, including a round trip to all of the five villages, Genoa and Portofino (these two cities are worth a visit but only if you have the time for it).

You should definitely take one of the hiking routes as well as go for a wine tasting, eat original focaccias, pasta with homemade green pesto, and swim in the crystal clear waters (some parts are very rocky due to the nature of the landscape, make sure you have some good sandals with you!)

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For your stay, I can heartedly recommend the Grand Hotel Porto Venere. A historic building with 54 rooms welcomes you at the gates of the old town. The location is perfect, the small but modern rooms are comfortable, and the breakfast is rich, with a big assortment of both Italian and American fresh goodies.

I personally loved having breakfast on their big terrace, with a view over the port and the old town. The terrace is chic and romantic, even though you do get one or the other surprise visit from sweet birds looking for something to eat. Don’t give them anything by the way; if you do the y won´t go away, I am talking from experience. I had one who visited me during breakfast for five days straight, I called him Jimmy J In the hotel the staff speaks fluent English and German on top of Italian of course.

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Breakfast guest

I used their gym, too. A nice option in case of rainy days, but if you would like to go for a run I would recommend to do it on Portovenere´s “Lungomare”.

Going forward to where to eat… well let me start by saying “take care” ! In this region the Aperitivo is amazing! By going out for a beer or an Aperol Spritz, you don’t only get the drink, but also a complimentary snack, or rather a huge plate with mini pizzas, capers, focaccia, olives, chips and many other local specialties. So if you are planning to go out for dinner take your aperitivo way before that! (trust me, you don’t want to miss out on dinner and you don’t want to miss on the aperitivo either).

What I suggest you do is have a good breakfast, have an aperitivo sometime in the afternoon, then take a little walk, go to your hotel to shower and then go to dinner. You can have one or the other snacks in between of course because well, what is a vacation in Italy without your Gelato?

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Porto Venere

So let´s move to dinner, and personally I think you should dine in Porto Venere, place where you should also stay at.

Don’t be fooled by the good looking restaurants on the promenade, they might be ok, but the real deal is somewhere else. Believe me, if you want a taste of authenticity go to “Portivene Un Mare di Sapori”.

This is a tiny, cozy, family run restaurant on a side street, which serves pure freshness. I would recommend you order some typical dishes, and fish. During our last stay we went twice in a row.

In case you want to try it out don’t forget two things: one is to reserve a table and two is to eat sea food! You will be delighted!

Have you been to the Cinque Terre already? Email me your experience, would be great for next time I go!

Love

Pete ♥

x

Ps: here are the links to the hotel and to the restaurant, and remember September is still a good time for hiking in the Cinque Terre!

http://www.portovenerehotel.it/eng/index.html

https://www.tripadvisor.de/Restaurant_Review-g194862-d2653328-Reviews-Portivene_Un_Mare_di_Sapori-Porto_Venere_Italian_Riviera_Liguria.html