La Dolce Vita, or Why I love Prosecco, Aperitivi and Italy at 5:00 in the afternoon….

Italian Villa
Tuscan Villas!

Italian’s invented La Dolce Vita – the Sweet Life – and have perfected the art of living well. It becomes easy to ignore the fact that your politicians are corrupt and your taxes are high when your wines are among the best in the world, your Prosecco’s rival Champagne, and every afternoon at five o’clock the bars on every corner offer put out mouth-watering aperitivi.

1930s Italian Art Deco Carton, Chinato Contratto Advertisement - Chiarel
1930s Italian Art Deco Carton, Chinato Contratto

Italy is the only country where – if you’ve had too much to eat and/or drink – they have a special digestivo (a wine to drink after meals) that can help you get over you indigestion or hangover. Take the Chinato – a medicinal spirit like Chartreuse or Jagermesiter, but with less alcohol – and infused with rots, herbs and spices. Many Italian wineries make their own versions of Chinato, although not that many are exported… considered to be an acquired taste, and an expensive wine to make, they are often kept for the winemakers own cellars

Frenet Branca, Il Popolo d'Italia - Da Cappadonia
Frenet Branca, Il Popolo d’Italia – Da Cappadonia

According to one website: “The experience of the aperitivo is a consolidated Italian tradition. Literally, aperitivo is a pre-meal drink whose scope is to stimulate appetite, but it has come to signify the ritual of going out for a drink at one of the many bars that offer it throughout the peninsula. “Facciamoci un aperitivo” (Let’s have an aperitivo) is what you hear all the time the most casual way to meet up with friends- or blind dates! It gives you a chance to socialize and relax while snacking before dinner- often spoiling dinner altogether!”


When I’m in Italy – which doesn’t happen often enough! – I like to put together aperitivi that include sliced meats, marinated vegetables, cheeses and olives (lots of olives!) in platters where guest can help themselves… It’s VERY civilized, totally, Italian and incredibly fattening (what could be bad with a combination like that??)

Milano Aperitivo
Milano Aperitivo!

Apertivi vary from region to region, so if you’re in Milan, Sorrento or on the Amalfi Coast, prepare to enjoy, relax and eat just a little too much.. And if you feel as if you’ve over-indulged, just ask for the Chinato …

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