Historic beauty, a welcoming atmosphere and an easy-going al fresco culture – no single place evokes the spirit of Aperol Spritz quite like Venice. It’s no surprise, then, that the north Italian city is the home of one of the world’s favourite holiday rituals: aperitivo.
At its essence, aperitivo is about relishing those pleasant evenings over a vibrant glass of sweet-bitter, citrus-flecked Aperol Spritz, with a few plates of moreish cicchetti on the side. Indeed, the word itself derives from the ancient Latin aperire, meaning to 'open the stomach and prepare it for food', which is to say that those light bites are an equally important element to your aperitivo experience.
But the appeal of the Aperol Spritz and aperitivo runs deeper still. It’s a blissful communal ritual and to experience it authentically is to visit Venice's atmospheric backstreet bars, called bacaros, and join the friendly locals and cosmopolitan travellers in this jovial pastime.
So, why Venice? Curiously, proximity plays an important role in the city's ties to aperitivo. After all, its most vital element, Aperol, was founded in nearby Padua by Luigi and Silvio Barbieri. After seven years of rigorous development, in 1919 they struck (orange) gold, and the Aperol we know and love today was born.
Its popularity rocketed across the cafés of Padua and Venice in the post-war period and, in 1950s, the Aperol Spritz was invented. The classic recipe – take a glass of ice, combine three parts Prosecco with two parts Aperol, add a splash of soda and garnish with an orange slice – remains unchanged to this day.
And if you traverse Venice on a warm summer's evening, especially through one of the city's atmospheric campi squares like the Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro or San Giacomo dall’Orio in Santa Croce, you’ll see cheerful Italians and tourists enjoying dinky polpette meatballs or creamed salt cod on slices of fried polenta, called baccalà mantecato, over an expertly-mixed Aperol Spritz.
Today, aperitivo remains as culturally relevant as ever. You only need to visit Terrazza Aperol to see why. This flagship bar, housed in an historic palace in Campo Santo Stefano, provides the quintessential ‘Aperol Experience’, as well as a cool, contemporary setting primed for aperitivo hour.
Of course, the crux of what makes a bar an irrepressible social hub (indeed, what transforms returning visitors into bona fide 'locals') is the people that inhabit it. Terrazza Aperol is no exception. An engaging programme of events, from the inaugural opening party to an enlightening amble around the boatyards where the bar's own historic sailing vessel, Caorlina, was being restored has only further cemented its place as the cultural heart of Venice. (Make sure to stay up to date with future happenings here.)
With its unique ability to bring people together, the act of aperitivo is set to have a starring role in the summer of 2022 as a sun-dappled vehicle for meaningful connections with friends. We’ll raise an Aperol Spritz to that – and where better to do it than Venice itself? Chin chin.
Enjoy Aperol responsibly.