Italians know how to eat and drink. Their genius for eating has even allowed them to find a meal between tea and supper – the Aperitivo! The aperitivo hour is an Italian tradition that ought to be more famous worldwide. The modern aperitivo began in Milan and has since spread across the Italian peninsular. These early evening buffets can be found in bars around Italy, overflowing with salads, pizza and snacks, all available for the price of a drink.
But what should you drink for an aperitivo?
To investigate the aperitivo further we visited Ex Forno del Pane – the bar of the Mambo Modern Art museum in Bologna with three experts to guide us through the minefield. In the UK everyone would be downing pints and nibbling on crisps. Not so in Bologna where chalices of orange liquid are the drink of choice amongst the aperitivo cognoscenti. These are known as Spritz.
Spritz come in two main types – Campari and Aperol. After a generous shot of one of these alcohols the Spritz is completed with Prosecco and soda water. There is no denying that it is an acquired taste. In the past I have offered a Campari to an English gentleman who has had a sip, turned up his nose and asked for a beer instead. Luckily I’ve put in the legwork and managed to acquire a liking for this Italian delicacy. Both Aperol and Campari are orange and delightfully bitter. Aperol is less strong and Campari is more bitter, but both make a great accompaniment to an early-evening snack.
As you would expect from a bar next to a modern art gallery the Ex Forno is stylish, with art books in cabinets along one wall and artworks hanging above them. When we visited several groups were celebrating graduations, giving the bar a busy, friendly feel. There’s even a DJ pumping out early evening vibes to top off the experience.
So next time you are in Italy make sure you indulge in an aperitivo. And if you’re going to take photos…take a camera with a flash!
Ex Forno del Pane
Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 14
I – 40121 Bologna
ph. +39 051 6496611
fax +39 051 6496637