Aperitivo Estivo – Italian Summer Happy Hour

Nightscape from the Grand Hotel Minerva’s roof-top pool in downtown Florence… Now picture this with great food, drinks, friends & entertainment!

Aperitivo is an Italian concept that roughly means, “happy hour with appetizers”. It is often a time for friends to meet and relax after long work-days or to make merry on weekend evenings before heading to dinner. It can be fancy or rustic, depending on the occasion or locale. The aperitivo can be enjoyed out on the town or recreated at home. Certain hotels and bars are well-known for their evening offerings accompanied by panoramic sunset views or live music and entertainment. The most memorable place I’ve been to for a special Florentine Happy Hour is the Grand Hotel Minerva in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, just steps away from the Duomo and the train station. With a breathtaking pool-side roof-top view that overlooks the entire valley  Florence sprawls across, this downtown hotel charges €15-20 on Thursdays throughout the summer for an evening featuring live flamenco music and dancers, a gourmet spread that will amply fill you with drinks, dinner, dessert and cheer. I’m only sorry that I didn’t discover this little haven sooner…

I was recently asked by some clients to organize a summery aperitivo-style meal at their house to welcome a new staff member to their office. The event was great fun–I answered lots of questions about Italian recipes and ingredients, and many of the guests shared some of their own experiences with food and travel. I always enjoy taking an interactive approach to preparing dishes–I keep very few recipes secret because I want people to learn more ways to use fresh ingredients to create healthy and delicious food at home!

Here’s a pictoral run-down of the menu:

White Bean & Tuna Crostini and Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Bruschettine
Watermelon salad with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Feta, Basil and Mint – So refreshing!
Assortment of Italian cheeses (pecorino con tartufo sottocenere, aged provolone, Port Madison spring goat’s milk cheese), meats and Taggiasche olives from Liguria with nuts, grapes and focaccia bites
Roasted Asparagus, Eggplant, Bell peppers & Romanesco dressed with a Peppery Aged Balsamic and Garlic Scapes Vinaigrette
Hand-whipped Zabaione – Fresh egg custard spiked with Moscato d’Asti – made to be dipped into with fragole e savoiardi (strawberries and ladyfingers)

3 thoughts on “Aperitivo Estivo – Italian Summer Happy Hour

    1. I do! If you give me permission, I will add your email (the one I see under your user name, unless you specify otherwise) to my newsletter list. I really don’t send many–just when there’s something important happening… Like the upcoming Culinary Tour Tuscany in November. Details to follow soon on my blog and in a newsletter!


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