Small Survival Guide under the Tuscan Sun – Yes it is all very romantic…under the Tuscan Sun, the country house villa, the lovely narrow streets in the cities…but when it is so hot that you melt, sleepless nights appear to be longer than they should and the floor seems to glue under your sandals…well …a bit less Tuscan Sun would be appreciated.
So what to do to find shelter on hot days? Too much Tuscan sun…
Let the “big manoeuvers”begin by starting to keep all the windows facing the sun closed during the hottest hours and be ready to open them as soon as the sun goes down and…hopefully, start feeling a bit of evening breeze…
Not true that you should avoid going out in the heat. In my experience it is far better to be outside the house, maybe taking advantage of bars and cafés with AC to read and write or touring less known museums …Trust me, there are so many of them outside the beaten track that you only have to choose…
Italian classes also are an option: language schools are open in Summer and surely you’ll find one to one courses or small groups ready to welcome you. It is a great way to meet people sharing your same interest in language and culture and you may have the chance to take part in some interesting organized activities. Shopping is of course an option, expecially if you choose to browse wherever they have AC
Drink! Yes keep hydrated at all times and enjoy the wide choice of fresh fruit juices, centrifuges and smoothies that are so trendy nowadays. Fruttivendoli (fruit sellers) or mini market sometimes offer “Macedonia di frutta” (fruit salad) to-go and it is an excellent way to keep going.
Not to mention Gelato that can substitute a regular meal, that would be too much with the heat.
What else….Oh YES! Drive a Vespa!
In the evening…yes it is time for Aperitivo! One of the most civilized ways of ending a working or not working day! I travelled a lot and loved any place I visited, discovering every time something unique and different from Italy. However, surely I have missed the lovely aperi-time one enjoys almost anywhere in Italy.
The culture of Aperitivo is widespread all over the “boot” (lo Stivale, as Italian call their country for its unique shape). Friends and colleagues getting together after work, people who just met and want to get to know each other better without the challenge of a long dinner; a moment of peace, to “decompress” after the day and before going home.
A precious me-time, or, as I call it, “un momento sospeso”…a moment hanging between working/social life and family life, in between the two. It’s up to you who you decide to spend it with. Aperi-time and its ability to aggregate everyone in front of a glass. Almost always now drinks are served with buffet food and one can easily skip dinner after that.
Among the many drinks one can choose, my favourite is called Spritz. If you are lucky enough to sip a Spritz in Venice, where the drink was created,…well this is the top and a difficult one to match! Spritz e cicchetti (similar to Spanish tapas) is an unforgettable experience.
However, from the Northeast, the cocktail in the last 10 years or so, has spread all over Italy and ,no doubt, it is now one of the most popular drinks, a real “must” for appetizers and pre-evenings throughout Italy.
Prosecco, bitters, soda water and a slice of orange: often the best recipes come from simple ingredients. But perhaps not everybody knows the story behind this drink
Venetian drink with an Austrian twist
It seems that the iconic drink from Venice has its origin during the period when the Serenissima slowly declined and became part of the Austrian Empire.
Upon their arrival, soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the 19th century, used to sip wine glasses in taverns, but did not get used to Venetian wines, in their opinion too “strong”; so they used to ask the Venetian baristas to “watering down” the wine by spraying a bit of water, “spritzen” in German . The real original version of the Spritz was therefore composed of sparkling white or red wine sprinkled with fresh water.
Over the years the recipe changed: at first with the addition of bitters and carbonated water, then in the early 1900s, with seltz (strongly carbonated water obtained under pressure with special cans). The drink became popular among all types of customers, even women, generally used to lighter and less alcoholic drinks.
“Vorrei uno Spritz”…a simple phrase, but how many times the bartenders then asked you: “with Aperol or Campari”? Aperol and Campari are in fact different, even though they are both “bitters”.
It is all about personal preferences as they are quite different in composition : in fact Aperol is obtained by infusion of herbs (including rhubarb) and roots in orange alcohol, has a bright orange color and a bitter sweet taste, while Campari is made by infusion of alcohol, water, fruit, aromatic plants and bitter herbs , it has a ruby red color and a stronger aroma and taste.
The drink is prepared with Prosecco wine, typical of the Veneto region, a dash of bitter liqueur such as Aperol or Campari. The glass is then topped off with seltz and usually served over ice in a large glass with a slice of orange, or sometimes an olive, depending on the liqueur.
When it comes to measurements, follow the official recipe of the International Bartenders Association:
60 ml Prosecco
40 ml Aperol or Campari
A splash of soda water
Finally add the ice and…Ecco! Your Cult- drink is ready! This is my favourite way to end a hot day in case you couldn’t guess!