Toward the end of what seemed like a six-month winter here in the UK came to a close, my friend Oli floated the idea of a weekend to Venice, Italy. Before you could say “ciao bella” we’d booked a brief but much-needed respite from the winter blues. The goal was simple: to wander around Venice and nearby Verona and soak up the sun, architecture, food and those beautiful, harmonious accents.
There was a secondary goal, which I had only remembered once it was happening, and which came to be what I remember Verona for most fondly. An Italian student of mine in the UK had told me to go for ‘aperitivo’, an Italian tradition of drinking and snacking in the early evening due to dinner being eaten from 8pm at the earliest. Oli and I had stopped for a quick, refreshing Aperol Spritz and a rest during a period of wandering, but because of the moreish nature of the orange beverage we ordered another round, served this time with a different snack. Before we knew it, neighbourhood residents, who all knew each other (and seemingly everyone who passed by), had slowly started to congregate alongside us for aperitivo, including a local friar named Bepe, who I chased down for a portrait afterwards.
I hope that Venice and Verona were the aperitivo for my time in Italy, a country that needs much more than a taste to satisfy a traveller’s appetite.