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Aperitivo in Bologna

In summer in Bologna the twilight lasts well into the evening. The slowly setting sun casts long shadows under the porticos which follow every street. The burnt orange facades glow against the deep, almost royal blue sky, waiting for you to decide whether to savour some gelato or settle in at the bar for aperitivo and a drink or two.

This very dilemma confronted me on a weekly basis while living and studying in Italy a little while ago. Aperitivo is a wonderful Italian pastime, along the same lines as the Friday after-work pub session with your mates. While similar to our happy hour, aperitivo takes the cake because the bars provide free snacks to nibble as you drink, and I’m not talking about a packet of Nobby’s Nuts!

Bruschetta, olives, prosciutto, verdure fritte (fried vegetables), tray after tray. And, if you time it just right, this complimentary pre-dinner treat can become your main meal as well!

I often sat with friends in the dwindling light at one of the bars on Via Clavature, in the heart of the old marketplace. The contrast of the old and new in Italy is both fascinating and incredibly commonplace. Via Pescherie Vecchie (literally, Old Fish Shop Street) still bustles with seafood merchants and fruit vendors from the first light of dawn, but in the evening is transformed by workers and students beginning their night with the latest cocktail creation. The best of both worlds, you could say.

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