I moved to London 8 years ago, from Milan. When I introduce myself as an Italian, one of the first things I get asked is if I miss home, the weather and the food. And of course, I miss having four distinct seasons, a summer that is not a spring. But I don’t miss Milan’s foggy mornings, or its freezing winters. It may be a shock to someone, but winters in London are actually milder than in Milan.
I miss walking into a café to order a macchiato, and almost been interrogated by the barista. I don’t miss the obsession with brands and must have handbags or the stuck up attitude of Milan’s fashion entourage that I experienced when I was interning in fashion.
I miss having the ski slopes 1 hour drive away, and a real beach – where I can actually swim and not freeze – that I can reach for the day in summer. I miss having my family close and saying proper goodbyes to people that are not longer here. Sometimes, Skype is not enough, and you would really want to be there and hug your mum or have a last chat with your grandma.
I miss walking into huge supermarkets where everything is displayed with care, almost worshiped, and you can get so much inspiration just looking at how the food in displayed.
I miss the typically Milanese ritual of aperitivo – though Turin claims to have come up with the idea, since the base of most aperitivo cocktails – vermouth – was apparently invented there in 1786.
It’s the end of a long day at work and you are ready to wind down. That’s when you stop at a bar on the way back home, maybe your regular, where you know you’ll bump into a friend or two; something that rarely happens in London. Aperitivo is much more than a drink and free nibbles. Most business deals, break up, arguments, love declarations happen during aperitivo.
If you are a broke student, it’s apericena, you go out to dinner without actually spending the money that a full meal would cost. It’s the non committing date of choice for new couples, a sort of let’s test each other out sipping a Spritz before the real commitment of a dinner.
Drinks of choice during aperitivo are the uber famous Spritz of course, Negroni, but even a simple glass of Prosecco or any good white or red wine, and of course, Crodino, albeit non alcoholic, one of my favourites, that I hope will make its way to London soon.
I have recently seen a few attempts to bring this evening ritual in London. If you want to get a feel of the real thing, Edoardo from Apetime, organises fun aperitivos on Sunday evening, across the city. His events are always packed. The guys behind Back Door Kitchen supperclub sometimes include aperitivo dates in their events.
Aperitivo can also be a slightly more stylish event. I have recently been invited to try the new aperitivo menu at Novikov in Mayfair, where they serve a selection of cocktails priced at £8, beers at £4 with complimentary homemade ‘cicchetti’, from pizza through to bruschetta and arancini.
If you are more into wines than cocktails, one of my latest discoveries in Tuscanic Merende; a cute little vineria in the heart of Soho, with a great selection of taglieri (meat and cheese boards) and great wines from Tuscany, including a selection from the ones produced by the Ferragamo family.
My dream though would be local aperitivo spot in Hackney. Maybe a cafe’ owner who wants to extend their opening hours? Perhaps I’ll miss home a little less.