The Italians have a saying: “L’appetito vien mangiando,” or, “Appetite comes with eating.” Wednesday evening, a group of Umbra Institute students tested this theory at Aperitivo 101.
Surrounded by the Living Café’s sweeping panoramic views of Umbrian countryside, students listened as Umbra Institute food studies professor Zach Nowak explained the time-honored tradition of aperitivo.
Taken anytime between 6:30-8 p.m., an aperitivo is an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink typically served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Notably among the popular drinks Nowak described is the spritz, which is made with prosecco, bright red Campari or Aperol, and an orange slice. Aperitivi are served with an array of appetizers. Depending on the locale, an aperitivo varies from crackers, pâté, and cheese to a full-fledged buffet.
Nowak said that records show the aperitivo first appearing in 1786 in the notes of Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the inventor of Vermouth; the tradition was definitely widespread throughout Italy by the early 19th century.
Today, the streets of Perugia still overflow with outdoor tables under umbrellas, the perfect spot for friends to sip a spritz, snack, and chat.