Friday, 6 August 2010


Returning from the sun to gloom and rain gives you an instant yearning to retrace your steps to whence you have come.

For me, nothing captures the spirit of Northern Italy more than those famous Aperitifs such as Aperol. While the Germans and Austrians are more focussed on what you knock back after the meal, the Italians have had the Aperitif off to a fine art for at least a hundred years.

I'm not talking Martini and Cinzano here: these brands have become too international, too ubiquitous. For me, it's the Bitters that sum up the quirkiness of the Aperitif. The ingredients are odd (artichoke), contradictory (bitter orange), mysterious (thirteen herbs and plants). The bottles, with their dark blues and oranges and gold-framed letters look like trinkets of Murano glass. Nothing looks as if it has changed since the early days of the last century when drinks like Aperol, Campari and Cynar were introduced.

I suppose you can drink the stuff at home, and dream, but I don't really want my Aperol gespritzt with grey German rain.

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