An interview to understand better this important Tuscan ritual.
We love the concept of the Italian aperitivo. It’s a simple idea and a very social way of meeting up with friends — having a cocktail or a glass of wine and dedicating time to ourselves. Now it may sound similar to going out for tapas as they do in Spain, or enjoying happy hour as done in the U.S.; however, the Italian aperitivo is an event in and of itself.
Aperitivo originates from the Latin verb aperire which means ‘to open’; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite. It may seem a bit odd to start your gastric juices flowing by indulging in a pre-dinner drink with snacks, but us Italians believe that the appetite comes when you eat.
Today you can find an aperitivo in any major city or town in Italy, though it’s mostly prevalent in the northern and central cities of Italy. Whether you’re in Milan, Torino, Florence, or Rome, you’re sure to find many locales, restaurants, and hotels with aperitivi of every kind.
The aperitivo is one of the most important rituals also in this hidden part of Tuscany, and, to better understand the importance of this moment for the Italians, we have spoken with Federica Simoncelli, the owner of Enoteca Simoncelli in Pieve Santo Stefano. Federica and her family run this business in Valtiberina and they organize a ritual aperitivo to allow people to enjoy Tuscan evenings of tasting good wine and eating delicious food.
Federica, why is the aperitif an important ritual for the Italians? In your opinion, what is the meaning given to this moment?
The most important aspect remains conviviality, it is a pleasure to meet with friends after a week of work and lively life. Take time to talk, sharing moments. Food remains the best way to be together; maybe the restaurant or the pizzeria have been surpassed by this different way of eating, informal but of high quality.
Why an American, an Australian, or any tourist, should start to embrace this ritual aperitif?
They should embrace this ritual just because they could enjoy this moment of well-being. Life in Italy is less frenetic than abroad, the aperitif is just the example of how you could take time to feel fine — eating well, drinking good wine, in fabulous places. In my opinion, it is the sense that tourists should look for in an aperitif — take time for themselves, in the company of the right people, enjoying what the territory offers.
What is the best way to have an aperitif in Tuscany, what do the locals like?
Tuscany is the most sought-after place for foreigners because food, wine, landscape and art can perfectly fit together here. The best way to have an aperitif is to taste local wines, coupled with high-quality local food. The customer has to be pampered, food, wine and location must make a great life experience that involves all the senses.
Thanks Federica for sharing with us your great experience with your Enoteca. One of the most amazing things is that we can experience the aperitivo ritual even if at home with friends or family, just before going out to dinner. Open a bottle of wine, set out some light snacks from whatever you may have in your kitchen, gather everyone around, and enjoy it.
The aperitivo ritual remains a quintessential Italian concept and follows in step with our dolce vita and the spirit of connecting with family and friends. Most aperitivo spots are lively places where you can mingle and have a good time.
So, we’re waiting for you in Tuscany and….
Come on, prendiamo un aperitivo!
This work was made possible also thanks to the amazing help in proofreading by Ann Game, Emeritus Professor @ School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia.