After the Salone del Mobile celebrated the best in design at Milan’s fiera and throughout the city, the fashion centre of Italy is now preparing itself for the 2011 Milano Food Week. Plenty of events open to the public will be available to taste the best in regional Italian cooking, including special menus and Italian cocktails on offer, and cooking classes and demonstrations.
If you’re really interested, you can become part of the Milano Food Lovers association, getting a special pass costing €15 and exclusive access to the events and discounts during the food week. More than 200 Milan restaurants and bars will be participating, so there is plenty to see - and eat!
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Milan’s famous canals - the Navigli area - are full of water again after a month of being dry. If you’re enjoying some Milan nightlife you’ll be able to get back to this popular spot for a drink or two without having to hold your nose. The Navigli area is home to fashionable bars, a cycling path and a rowing club but about twice a year the Milanese canals are emptied.
During the emptying of the canals, that lasts for about a month, maintenance and cleaning works are carried out but it’s not the best spot to be for your Italian happy hour. When dry, the canals are a picture of urban decay which doesn’t accurately reflect this fashionable and well-known spot in the city.
As spring takes off in Italy, for tourists visiting Milan and the Milanese themselves, the water back in the canals means we can once again enjoy one of the more romantic settings the city offers. You’ll see rowers out on the canals and people cycling past most likely as you enjoy a Milanese aperitif in one of the bars. This atmosphere will take us to April 10th and the colourful festival of Fiori sul Naviglio.
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If you’re looking for great happy hour in Rome, try the American Bar Ballantine’s when next you’re in the eternal city. It’s located on via Salvatore di Giacomo, 19/23 and has jumped on board the current trend of happy hour and aperitifs that many Italians are now enjoying as essential part of their Saturday night out.
Ballantine’s serves food with aperitifs from 6pm to midnight every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, including hot pasta buffet, for about ten euros a head. You should consider this your drink and dinner all in one - we certainly don’t recommend backing up for food at a restaurant somewhere after this happy hour!
All you can eat buffet and Happy Hour in Italy is the best! You can try Italian cocktails or a nice prosecco, paying a bit more for the drink and enjoying the Italian snacks available for free at the bar. Just a little advice for living in Italy.
For Italian cocktails, try a negroni, aperol spritz, americano, bellini or rossini, or get some advice on the Italian wine available by the glass. Go with white wine - only ignorant people wanting to show off go for red.
And when we say snacks, we don’t mean picky finger food. We’re talking a smorgasboard of mega pasta salads, hot pasta dishes, savoury pastries galore, chillies stuffed with ricotta, various parmesan cheese platters, more prosciutto than one pig could provide etc etc.
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Despite the great variety and quality of Italian wines, Italy has cultivated a cocktail culture, particularly associated with summer vacations by the sea and Italian discos. If you’re in Italy, look for cocktails such as the Mojito, Caipirina, Caipiroska or the Cuba Libre.
Classic Italian cocktails and pre-dinner drinks include the Negroni, Bellini, Rossini and Aperol Spritz (great for the Italian summer). On the subject of mixer drinks, Italy in SF is not entirely correct when she says that Italian’s don’t put ice in their drinks (Tip 37).
Take a gin and tonic, for example. A large, high tumbler glass will normally be served, filled with ice, and then filled with gin virtually to the brim; Italy hasn’t yet got draconian alcohol laws where everything must be measured in small cups. A little tonic water may be squeezed in at the top, otherwise you’re left with a small bottle of tonic water, drinking straight gin on ice until there’s enough room to include the tonic part of the mix. Regarding relaxed drinking laws, you should remember that one gin and tonic might be two or three gin and tonics of your regular drink back home.
More on the Italian cocktail culture soon, with a special piece on the great Happy Hour - absolutely not-to-be-missed. I am a Happy Hour convert and believe it should be implemented internationally in the interests of good Saturday nights out!
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We’ve looked at Rome’s nightlife more than once, and a holiday to Italy’s liveliest city wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a bar, and while you’re at it, why not choose a distinctive destination? Il Palazzetto is a bar on the Spanish Steps and while it’s not budget, it’s prices are not exorbitant either.
You can enter this wine bar from Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top of the steps, going to the left of the obelisk. Il Palazzetto has quite elegant decor, with two terraces overlooking the Spanish Steps.
The Italian wine and cocktails on offer are extensive, with elaborate cocktails costing 12 euros and standard cocktails costing ten. If you want a fruit mocktail, it’s about eight euros. Service is fast and friendly, try the happy hour too. The area is lively and if you enjoy people watching in Rome, the Spanish Steps are where to go.
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These pics come from Milan’s wine bar “Le Barrique”, a sophisticated little spot not far from Parco Sempione and the Piccolo Teatro. In a side street called via Anfiteatro, that leads onto via Legnano, you’ll find “Le Barrique”: a bar, wine shop and restaurant in one.
There used to be a car parts shop here once, but seven years the owners saw the possiblity of opening a wine shop, when they then decided to open the ground floor of this traditional building for a new restaurant in Milan.
The interior is characterised by warm wooden floors, and a large classic bar, with bare brick walls and arches to the ceiling. The chairs are comfortable and the bar can easily hold 25 people, though you’re more likely to find it hopping with 40 to 50 customers during special events. Bottles of wine everywhere decorate the place, along with more curious decorations such as metallic ties and artist prints. We had a chat with Alessandro, sommelier and founder of “Le Barrique”. See after the jump for the interview.
In Venice you will find many dark and hidden bars that as a tourist you might not be game enough to enter. But often these seemingly uninviting places are Venice’s best kept secret. The “Bacari” are bars were you eat and drink standing up, but that often serve local delicacies and wine at cheap prices.
While in Venetian dialect, the site Venessia.com includes a lot of information on Venice, not for tourists, among which you can find Venice’s best bars (and we’re not talking Harry’s Bar). Bar advice includes visiting Al Bagolo in Campo San Giacomo for the music and people, S.Marcuola “Enoteca Do Colonne” for the good snacks and nice baristas, Ai Bisatei in Campo San Bernardo a Murano where for 12 euros you can get good happy hour food, and the “Cantina da Roberto” At Cannaregio where the wine is good, the snacks even better, but apparently “solo per Veneziani”: only for Venetians!
The term “bacaro” comes from an old word referring to the wine makers who once came to Venice with barrels of wine to sell in St Mark’s square, together with some snacks. The glass the wine was served in was called “ombra”, meaning shade, because the wine makers used to follow the shade from the bell tower. moving their stalls around the square, to protect the wine from the sun.
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New York Times writer Matt Gross is not silly - on looking for cheap eats in Milan, he bypassed the restaurants and went straight to the great cocktail bars of Italy, serving aperitifs for a set price with unending buffets of free food.
This is not news for Italians, who have been indulging in “happy hour” for years. The indulging is more like dining for many, as buying one Italian drink gives you access to a vast buffet that can include pasta dishes, rice salads, canapes and much more.
Happy hour in Milan, or aperitif time, has become a pillar of Milanese society, and where you go, what you order and who you go with is a microscopic indication of your “milanesità”. Whether the trend will take off in New York or not doesn’t matter - you can always enjoy it on your holiday to Italy.
To check out the bars in Milan, see Obika mozzarella bar, Da Claudio restaurant-cocktail bar or Milanese institution Pasticceria Cucchi where by day you get Italian pastries, and by night enjoy drinks and cocktails.
In terms of trying some classic Italian drinks and cocktails, we recommend the negroni, negroni sbagliato, aperol spritz, a prosecco, or Bellini or Rossini cocktail, or even an Italian beer. As the article says, “aperitivo is the best!”.
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While we sent out the challenge on Rome night life: best places to go and where to eat and drink, we’re setting up one on Milan as well. So anyone who’s been to Milan and is now an expert on Italian aperitifs, snacks and cocktails, we need your suggestions to build up an itinerary.
I can start: don’t have an aperitif anywhere within a pigeon’s piss of the Duomo or you’ll pay ten euros a glass for your prosecco. Though, I have to admit, we got table service for the snacks, none of that queuing up at the buffet, and they were pretty high quality snacks too.
We want to make a list of the best spots for happy hour in Milan. We need costs, food quality and quantity, ambience, range of choice etc. We’re particularly on the hunt for smaller places with character who aren’t in it to rip off the tourists.
We could start with Obikà in Via Mercato 28, or the Excelsa pasticceria in Via Mac Mahon 16, both around five to six euros which, when you consider you can nearly get a meal out of these places, is not bad at all. Over to you.