This idea of a pre-meal drink, consumed most often with company in a café’ has since then become the natural end of an evening stroll into town. It’s also a great way of filling the time gap between the end of the Mass and the family lunch on Sundays; the perfect option for friendly gatherings.
When the trend began, having an aperitivo went like this—you’dorder your drink of choice (sodas, campari, prosecco or wine for example) and snack on complimentary mini pretzels, salted peanuts and green olives.
To keep it fresh and to compete with each other, cafes’ have gotten more and more inventive over the years, not necessarily in the cocktail selection but accompanying them with an ever increasing amount and variety of finger foods.
Imagine small warm focaccia slices, hand-carved prosciutto, bite size mozzarella, mini arancini, little squares of frittata, mixed grilled vegetables.
These would be only a sample of what you’d be served with your flute of prosecco. During my trips I’ve often had an aperitivo in lieu of a meal whenever I was pressed for time or when I wasn’t very hungry. I also love variety in food, so the aperitivo has been a lifesaver for me more than once. I must have not been the only one to feel that way because during my most recent trips, when setting up time to visit with friends or long standing business partners in the late afternoon, I’ve been invited to go for an “apericena”. “Apericena” is a made up word created merging together “aperitivo” (aperitif) and “cena” (dinner) and basically indicate this tapas style snacks being served with drinks in many a cafe in the early evening all around the country and used by my fellow countrymen in lieu of dinner. I must admit that I chuckled first at the name but I then thought it a brilliant idea: lighter and less formal than a sit down dinner and with tons of variety to savor as many as the local specialties possible. AND, very budget friendly – the average cost of an “apericena” is around 10-15 Euros per person.