When I was a little girl, I was always impressed by the color of that liquid substance shining from those many wine glasses seen through the narrow streets in my hometown, Treviso. There was a stain of orange or red color just on each of the tray tables downtown. I could notice that a couple of ice cubes was in the glass too, as well as some slices of orange or lemon, chips and olives on the tables and people, talking, smoking, smiling, kissing, enjoying. I am sure that my family was promptly asked by me about the essence of that colourful beverage I could not stop looking at. And I am sure they explained me the whole thing the first time, while just giving me a simple answer all the following times although you can't really make a story short when talking about the Italian "aperitivo". It not only deals with what to drink or eat, but it is a social moment, a habit that reflects the way people live their life, a key situation for the Italian culture. You'll most probably order a "Spritz" in Veneto region, but it's not dramatic at all - even if someone would declare just the opposite - if you do not drink alcohol. In any case, the aim is to join your friends and family and have a good time. There is a wide variety of possibilities for "aperitivo" and different traditions are to be found from region to region or even from town to town. These have to do with the time, the location, the drink itself and so on. When I was in high school (last year of it since in Italy you are not given any alcohol when you are younger than 18 years), I would join my friends for aperitivo at 7 on a Friday evening. In my university days the "spritz day" became Tuesday. There is also a wide range of recipes, of ways of presenting as well as of food to be eaten with. Some people like it "liscio" (only prosecco, sparkling water and a slice of lemon), other people prefer it with Aperol (sweeter), with Campari (bitter), with Select (a middle ground) or non alcoholic (what a scandal!). Further variations are to be found when travelling along the Boot on the way you make it as well as the name you call it might change from north to south. Have you ever heard of it or tasted it the real way? Since I live in Copenhagen I haven't drank a good one, sadly, but maybe you have! Please tell me more in the comments! If you want to be advised on some good places where to drink the best Spritz in Treviso, instead, please do not hesitate to send me a private message. Now I pass the word to Valentina who will tell us more about the Spritz's origins and curiosities.Valentina - Around & About Treviso:
Every place has its habits and I love to explore their customs when visiting other places or other cultures. And when your own habit is spreading around the world, you feel in between proud as well as protective. Yes, protective, because people ignore the roots of it and this is exactly what has been happening in the past few years to the Spritz. Spritz is a local drink and as a child I remember that it used to be drunk by old people, it was not a trendy drink and commonly it was sipped just before main meals. Now it is the most widespread and common aperitif in the North East of Italy and in Treviso as well. By far, it is the perfect drink to accompany cicchetti (typical finger-food) in the many osterie (taverns) in cities as well as small towns.
Lately its popularity has crossed the border region, thanks to a strong advertising campaign by Aperol liquor. In the last decade, Spritz with Prosecco has become the most popular type served all over Italy. What makes the difference having it in Veneto is the price. While in Veneto is still sold as a common drink, and if you are lucky enough you can spend 1€ per glass, in other areas of Italy it is served as a cocktail with an accordingly price. It’s become quite popular in the menus of half Europe and not long ago I had the chance to have it in Cape Town, South Africa, while recently I saw it served in Copenhagen as well. Actually, I was not impressed by those, as their color was a pale orange and not tempting at all.
Ever wondered where it comes from? It’s a legacy of the Habsburg domination in Veneto between 1814 and 1866. Indeed “Spritz” derives from the abbreviation of the German word “Gespritzter” used to indicate the white or red wine diluted with water, which was ordered by the Habsburgians, for whom the Venetian wines were too high in alcohol. And so they got used to order a glass of wine with a “spritz” of water. That’s why if you go to some areas of the Northern East of Italy and you order a Spritz without mentioning whether you wish it with Aperol or Campari, you may get a glass of white wine mixed with some water. Usually called Spritz Bianco - White Spritz in Treviso.Would you share a glass of spritz with your friends? Just follow this recipe for a traditional spritz: 1/3 Prosecco wine, 1/3 Aperol liquor (or Campari), 1/3 sparkling water (or soda), a slice of orange and a few ice cubes. Then blend them and serve, better if with some cicchetti.
Enjoy its unique taste and participate to the popular Venetian ritual! Cheers!