Looking for a classy alternative to the ubiquitous Aperol spritz? Here are four iconic Italian cocktails to shake up your aperitivo!

The ubiquitous Aperol spritz. Photo by Nadezhda Filatova on Unsplash

One of the (many) joys of living in Italy is the availability (and affordability) of the classic Italian aperitivo, the Aperol spritz.

Wherever you go in Italy, no matter what time of day, you are never too far away from the iconic orange aperitif!

Made with Aperol, prosecco, a dash of soda water and a slice of orange, the Aperol spritz is the quintesstial Italian cocktail.

In Verona, where it’s not actually classified as a cocktail, you can enjoy an Aperol spritz, generally served with complimentary snacks, for as little as €3.50!

So, whether you’re looking for a pre-lunch pick-me-up…

How Italy remembers its dead

Photo by Luigi Boccardo on Unsplash

While Italians are slowly catching up with the commercialisation of Halloween, Italy is miles ahead when it comes to celebrating the dead.

The 1st November, All-Saints Day, is a national holiday in Italy. The 2nd November, though, is Il Giorno dei Morti, the day of the dead.

On this day it is customary to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.

Not wanting to miss out on this expression of reverence for the deceased, we decided to mark the occasion ourselves by tracking down the memorial at Monte Comun, where the Jewish partisan…

Discover the best wine in Italy’s city of love

Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash

Wine is to Verona what whisky is to Speyside. Or beer is to Bavaria. It is the lifeblood of the city. It underpins the local economy, sustains the region’s cultural life and shapes the local discourse.

From sumptuous full-bodied reds, to refreshing crisp whites and sweet seductive dessert wines, Verona has a wine that will satisfy every taste!

In the famously romantic city, there are an abundance of wine bars, trattoria and bottega, serving the best local wine and food in cosy, authentic surroundings.

And you don’t have to tread far beyond the city’s walls to encounter the expansive vineyards…

And what you need to know before you drink them!

Photo by Fred Moon on Unsplash

Although Italy is first and foremost a wine producing (and drinking) nation, beer is increasingly popular, in particular mass-produced pale lagers, which are the traditional accompaniment to pizza.

Craft beers (or birra artiginale) are also increasingly popular, but today’s focus is the mass-market lager variety.

In fact, Italy has a long history of brewing. The ancient Phoenicians traded in beer, the Ancient Romans mastered the art of brewing, and renaissance princes distributed free beer at their lavish wedding ceremonies.

Today, Italians prefer a fairly robust, chilled pale lager or pilsner-style beer, typically brewed at around 5% percent - the discerning…

John Fox finally got his in 1997. This is his story.

The memorial stone to Lt. John Fox (Photo by the author)

The Gothic Line, the most northerly of the Italian defensive lines, crossed Italy from the Ligurian Sea in the west to the Adriatic in the east, along the natural barrier of the Apennine mountains. In August 1944, it marked the frontline of the brutal Italian campaign.

It was Mussolini himself who had proposed an Italian counter offensive in this zone. The plan envisioned a powerful offensive involving 40,000 men with heavy tank, artillery and air support, to be launched against the western flank of the US 5th Army in the mountainous Garfagnana region, between Emilia and Tuscany. …

And why it’s still worth a visit

The gateway to Juliet’s Balcony (Photo by Marcel Heil on Unsplash)

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Act II, Scene II, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Act II, Scene II of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a strong contender for the most well-known scene in literary history. The pivotal balcony scene, in which Romeo eavesdrops on Juliet’s inner thoughts, before clambering up to exchange vows of love, contains some of the most frequently quoted lines penned by Shakespeare.

Less well-known, though, is the story…

Austin Tice (photo credit: www.austinticefamily.com)

Former U.S. marine Austin Tice was taken hostage in Syria in 2012

Former Marine Captain Austin Tice disappeared in August 2012 while working as a freelance journalist in the Syrian war zone. To put that in some perspective, he disappeared around the time that President Obama was preparing for the Democratic National Convention that would propel him towards a historic second term, and hasn’t been seen since.

In Syria, the brutal civil war was in full flow, a conflict that shows no signs of abating. …

A fading plaque hides the dark secrets of a picturesque Italian village

A sprawling linden tree in the Tuscan village of Castiglione di Garfagnana (Image by the author)

Under a sprawling linden tree, in the medieval village of Castiglione di Garfagnana, looking out over the lush Serchio Valley, stands a fading plaque dedicated to Luigi Dini.

Castiglione di Garfagnana is a village that embraces its history. Two days previously we had paid our annual visit to the village’s ‘Sagra Mediavale’, a two day festival during which the entire village celebrates its medieval origins.

In fact, the origins or Castiglione can be traced back to the year 723, but the town remains defined by its medieval layout…

Bring a touch of class to your dinner party with these simple Italian liquors

Dinner party with friends (Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash)

By the time dessert arrived, I’d ate and drank so much I was in danger of submerging head first into my zabaione.

The food had been exceptional, but I was beginning to regret that second helping of risotto ai calamari. Opening a third bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano was certainly a mistake.

What I really needed was a moment or two to clear my head. Plus a short sharp shot of something to reactivate my bloated corpse.

During a lull in the conversation, I discreetly extended my belt a notch or two. At that moment Annalisa, our obliging hostess…

As a second Covid-19 wave looms, is it a good time to visit Italy?

Verona from Castel San Pietro (Photo by Z S on Unsplash)

Last week, as temperatures soared to 40C and a number of Italian cities were placed on a heatwave red alert, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sought parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency in Italy. The extension (the existing provision expired on 31 July), gives Conte the power to reintroduce lockdown measures without recourse to parliament, should he consider it necessary to do so.

On top of that, a raft of airlines have cancelled flights to the peninsula and, in the current climate, further last-minute cancellations cannot be ruled out.

In addition, the UK government’s dramatic response to the escalating…

Richard Hough

History, football, wine, whisky, culture + travel. Author of Notes from Verona, a collection of diary entries from locked-down Italy (available on Amazon).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store