Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Tale of Three Campari

It was the best of drinks ... a far, far better one than I have ever known.

With apologies to Dickens, an ode toItaly's favorite aperitif, Campari.

We're in Bologna, about 8 on a moonlit night and the Piazza Maggiore is crowded with drinkers having their aperitifs and pre-dinner snacks.

On Piazza Maggiore in Bologna.jpg Campari bitter in Bologna.jpg

At first bar, order for a straight Campari bitter brings the full-on set-up: three fingers of Campari in a tall glass; separate containers for ice, swizzle sticks, orange slice, soda water, mini-sandwiches, peanuts. 3 euros.

Under adjacent arcade, barman at second cafe responds to request for Prosecco bitter by topping up tumbler with sparkling wine kept in icebucket. Snacks are set out on bar; one helps oneself. 3.50 euros.

Prosecco bitter in Bologna.jpg Negroni at Nu-Bar in Bologna.jpg

Third place, on sidestreet, is one of Bologna's hot spots. Calls itself Nu-Lounge. Has intelligent cocktail list, all 8 euros: Martinis, Muddles, Fashion, Frozen. From page labeled Classics, ask for Negroni: equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin. Barman snags two bottles in one hand, third bottle in the other, upends all three. Does this often, it appears. Best snacks of the night, too.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Citta Slow

Orvieto duomo.JPG

Literally a "Slow Sunday" in Orvieto yesterday: no traffic, food & wine tastings everywhere, a full moon. Six years ago Orvieto was one of five Italian towns to formalize the Cittaslow vision that local goverments should actively promote "good living."

The town perches on cliff above lush Umbrian countryside. Enthusiastic guides from Orvieto Promotion spent afternoon feeding us local specialties, showing off Etruscan caves, glorious cathedral. Got to the hotel about 7 PM, walked onto balcony and reached for the camera.

Aperitivo in Rimini

The Adriatic "Riviera"--20 miles of sand backed by 20 miles of wall-to-wall hotels. Overrun by Germans, Scandinavians and even Italians until mid-September, it's almost deserted now.

But it's been a brilliant fall day, the air brisk, the skies blue, and, at the Lungomare Hotel in Riccione, it ends with Italy's version of happy hour: Campari bitter and complimentary antipasto.

Barman looks like Fabio, with dark hair. Dinner? Ladies perched on slippery stools decide to ignore lavish buffet upstairs, order another round instead. Wise choice.