There are many things that can be difficult about adjusting to life in a new country. Luckily, when you move to Italy, the different culture surrounding food is a difference easy to enjoy.
In addition to the general excellent quality of the ingredients of each meal and the superb recipes and traditions surrounding each area of what I call the “gastronomical geography” of Italy, the entire way in which a meal is consumed is different. You eat in different stages, different courses. And sometimes you eat more than once in an evening! This is one of my favorite parts about the Italian lifestyle, and it’s called the Aperitivo.
An aperitivo is, simply put, a drink and a snack. You go to a small bar or cafe in the afternoon or early evening, right after you get out of school or work. You buy a drink, and with that drink you get access to a whole array of snacks, generally finger food but occasionally pasta or grains. It’s a smorgasbord and a cocktail. But it’s so much more than that as well. It’s a chance to see your friends, to have a conversation. It’s an excuse to sit outside a cafe, drink a spritz, and munch on tiny sandwiches. It’s an opportunity to slow down and enjoy your life.
When you’re a student abroad, there is so much to do. There are the classes you have to take, the homework you do. There are the trips you go on, the people you meet. All this and more, and at the same time you’re absorbing an entirely new language and geography. Sometimes, you just need to kick back and have an aperitivo.
Siena Art Institute Post-Baccalaureate Graduate