Summer has come early to Northern Italy, unfurling an endless blue sail of sky. By the time evening arrives the air is thick with the heavy scents of a summer day: cloying jasmine, hot pavements, warm bodies. As night falls a welcome breeze drifts in through the open windows bringing relief to sun drenched skin. The weekends are now moments to escape the stifling cities, to find the dappled shadows in the Colli Euganei, the lake-side cool of Garda or Iseo, and the salty sea breezes of Chioggia and Sottomarina.
Rather self-indulgently, I’d like to share some glimpses into my everyday life in summer in Italy, a time when my Italian lifestyle dreams are fulfilled! In summer each day becomes extraordinary through the small indulgences that are born of the long, hot, Italian summers, the things that originally beckoned me here to il bel paese. Visitors to Italy: discover these summer lifestyle secrets! Don’t transit through Italy holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa one day and throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain the next. Rent an apartment for a couple of weeks, echo the Italian pace of life, and live like an Italian.
With the sun setting at 9ish now aperitivo time is gilded by the last rays of sunshine, and performed before a backdrop of pale pink and orange skies. As early as six on Friday night the main pedestrianised street of my town fills up with people buzzing for the weekend, accessories by sandals, tans and bright orange spritz. There’s no need to call friends asking to meet, everybody is out of their houses, sometimes all night, skipping dinner and living from bar to bar snacking on mini-pizza, tramezzini and crisps. In a big city it is perhaps better to stick to one bar and make it your local, introducing yourself to the bar tenders. But if you stay in a small town I highly recommend a parigi da bar (bar crawl!) not least to conceal how much buffet food you are taking with each drink…
What to drink: spritz (either aperol or campari, which is a little more bitter), negroni (very alcoholic), prosecco or beer. In summer Italy requires refreshing and light drinks; if you try drinking a Ripasso you’ll be snoring in bed before 9pm!
Do you know what is the special aperitivo drink in Bassano del Grappa? If you want a really memorable evening, crowd into Nardini, the famous Grappa producer, and ask for a "mezzo e mezzo", then enjoy your aperitivo standing on the Ponte degli Alpini just outside. . . . . . . . #italy_hidden_gems #passionpassport #guardiantravelsnaps #whatitalyis #italia360gradi #browsingitaly #italymagazine #lifeofadventure #neverstopexploring #dametraveler #takemethere #petitejoys #lonelyplanet #abmlifeisbeautiful #nothingisordinary #italiainunoscatto #winter4igers #dailyescape #prettylittletrips #fromwhereistand #cultivatecreativity #theartofslowliving #grappa #bassanodelgrappa #sunset #italian_places #italiasocial #Nardini #aperitivo
2.Gite in Moto
As those who know me on Instagram may have seen, we have recently purchased a Vespa! Given that my perception of life in Italy is a patchwork of ideals garnered from vintage films, novels and postcards, riding on a light blue Vespa behind an Italian man with the sun setting is surreally perfect, an unashamed clichè of life in Italy in summer. Rent, beg, steal, do whatever it takes to commandeer one when you’re here as there is no better feeling than whipping round corners shattering the peace of sleepy towns with that classic Vespa engine. Except perhaps when you are overtaken by a man on a bicycle (i.e for the safety-conscious don’t worry, Vespe are pretty slow).
I'm getting ready for summer, by which I mean… I bought a Vespa!!! 😍😍😍 here's to weekends pootling around the Colli Euganei and zipping off to the sea when it gets too hot in town! . . . . . . #Italiaonthego #italy_stop #borghitalia #borghiditalia #italy_illife #mycornerofitaly #charmingitaly #onholidayinitaly #loves_united_borghi #diamondsofitaly #italiaintour #prettylittleitaly #italiainunoscatto #browsingitaly #italymagazine #fromthestreets #urbanromantix #spring4igers #nothingisordinary #letmeitalianyou #italyworld #italiainfoto #gitafuoriporta #vespa #vespagram #vespalovers #vespaclassic #seeandshare #gelsomino
3.To the Beach!
The end of May is the transition period between the lifeless winter and full-blown summer, when the sun loungers and umbrellas are just beginning to be set up in their regimented rows. Holding my head high, I march my ghostly pale body down the sands to the sea, and soon I am lying dreaming in the breezy heat so much so that my luminous skin ceases to matter. The beach is blissfully quiet at this time, before the real summer crowds come clattering down armed with half their houses to set up camp for August. So follow the dedicated Italians and spend a day at the beach, returning home happily tired and gently roasted to get dolled up for aperitivo time.
4.Dinner al fresco
Although occasionally thwarted by mosquitos, the end of May and early June is the best time for al fresco dining. A recent trip to the Colli Euganei brought the discovery of a marvellously positioned restaurant looking out over the oasis of green peaks and valleys. Particularly for a Scot, eating outside bestows any meal, however simple, with a joy like that felt by children having midnight feasts or picnics. If you’re in town, opting for a table outside means you are also treated to possible unembarrassed people-watching. In summer Italian life is performed in the streets, Napoli-style.
Food shopping, too, gains an element of simple pleasure in summer when you are presented with artistically arranged mounds of glowing lemons, soft furry peaches, or giant succulent pineapples to choose from. While in winter I zoom round the supermarkets doing the shopping against the clock, in summer I favour the independent shops, where the soil on the potatoes isn’t artificial, the fruit is virginally fresh and the produce hasn’t clocked up impressive air miles. If you are spending a long time in Italy the superlative of Italian lifestyle is developing relationships with friends who donate crates of gargantuan asparagus or kilos of cherries in exchange for a helping hand or even just a daily greeting.
6.La Gioia di Gelato
Of course, no summer day in Italy is complete without ice cream. My favourite gelateria is found in a tiny town called Ariano nel Polesine. The town is nothing remarkable, but if you happen to be driving the road from Venice to Ravenna (called the Romea), consider stopping off for a gelato at Dolce Tentazioni. I highly recommend the ricotta, fichi e noci, and the mojito flavours! Plus, gelato is exempt from rules: unlike various types of coffee it can be eaten at any time of day, and you have no need to be embarrassed if it’s almost the size of your head. In fact, in summer Italy is as delectable as the gelato itself!
What's the best ice cream you've had in Italy? One of the best for me wasn't in Rome or Florence or any big city but in a town on the road between Venice and Ravenna. Highly recommended if you're ever driving that route! . . . . . . . #italymagazine #browsingitaly #whatitalyis #italia356 #mycornerofitaly #italia360gradi #italiainunoscatto #ladolcevita #eattheworld #luckypeach #forkyeah #seriouseats #feedfeed #travelfood #drivenbyfood #thechew #buzzfeast #charmingitaly #foodphotography #eatbene #forkfeed #foodspotting #thenewhealthy #livethelittlethings #ohyesitaly #huntgramitaly #prettylittleitaly #gelato #italian_places #vscoitaly
I cannot stress enough that the Italy of films can be found, if in bite sized quantities, but only if you sacrifice feeding pigeons in St Marks and drooling at Dolce and Gabbana in Milan, for small towns where dialect is spoken before Italian and you will most certainly be ogled at for being ‘new’. And if you stay there long enough for the local bar tender to know you order before you say it you’ve officially made it in Italy (if however, like me, all the bars know your order that’s just a sign you have a drinking problem).