Image: The rustic charm of Un Posto a Milano
Aperitivo is a national past-time in Italy during spring and summer and being married to an Italian, I’ve learnt to take the pre-dinner ritual VERY seriously. An aperitivo is a drink designed to stimulate the appetite before your meal and aperitivo time is that part of the day set aside to indulge in the famously relaxed Italian lifestyle - to meet friends, kick back and chat in the early evening sun.
Aperitivo is served between about 6pm and 9pm at almost any bar in northern Italy. Your drink will be accompanied by a selection of nibbles, including olives, focaccia, cured meats and cheeses. In some places, an aperi-dinner accompanies your cocktail – an all you can eat buffet of pastas, salads, focaccias, meats and vegetables.
You should expect to pay from 7 to 15 euros for one drink and snacks, more at higher-end places.
Traditional aperitivi drinks are cocktails like Aperol and Campari Spritz or the Negroni and Americano, but these days you can get all kinds of craft beer and wine on the menu.
Milan is full of fabulous aperitivi venues and here are three of our favourite gay-friendly places from the past few weeks which offer three completely contrasting experiences in the magnificent city of Milano.
This restored 18th century farmhouse known as Cascina Cuccagna is our local hangout and favourite place in Milan. It’s literally around the corner from where we live in Porta Romana and a quick metro ride or 30 minute walk south from the centre of the city.
The philosophy behind Un Posto a Milano - the bar, restaurant and deli on site - is simple: they serve seasonal, organic, sustainable produce sourced from 100 small and medium Italian producers who respect the environment, animals and ancient Italian traditions. The result is a restaurant that serves stunning tasting rustic food with lots of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
For aperitivi, you order your drink and food at the deli, then take a seat at the tables outside, under the vines or on the grass, where you can soak up the evening sunshine.
You can even stay over if you like as there's a charming guest house on site which has been decorated using all natural materials.
Image on left courtesy of Un Posto A Milano Website
We stumbled into the Martini Bar courtyard after an exhausting day of shopping, our Havaianas and shorts coordinating with the beads of sweat pooling on our pink skin. Oblivious to the name of the destination, we were free from the shame that engulfs you when you realise you’ve walked into one of the must-be-seen-at venues in Milan right in the middle of men’s fashion week, dressed like an Aussie tourist in Bali.
This collaboration between fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana and Martini is in the heart of the fashion district, housed in the Dolce & Gabbana building. (Duh)
We ordered cocktails from the extensive, Martini-centric list and stared at the flamboyantly gay Milanese fashionistas lining the courtyard, dressed head to toe in the latest Dolce & Gabbana and Versace creations. It was hilarious fun to watch them strut, sip, suck on cigarettes and air kiss each other, all with their sunglasses firmly affixed to their faces.
They host exclusive Martini and fashion week parties here, plus Friday night aperitivi events featuring DJ’s and specially designed cocktails, but you need to book to attend. Prices are a little higher than at other places (around 20 euros for a cocktail) and the service can be slow and slightly snooty. Make a reservation if you want to stay for dinner in the glamorous Bistrot Martini.
Image Credit: www.dolcegabbana.com
Gay friends of ours who live in Milan took us to Via Lecco in Porta Venezia, the gay area of town located in central Milan. This small street is dotted with gay bars and it’s where the pride parade is held each year. Lecco Milano is our friends’ favourite hangout in the area - a cosy bar and restaurant where cute lesbians, curious straight people and gay men gather. It’s nice and chilled during aperitivi time and 10 euros will get you a drink and access to the full buffet. The place fills up later in the evening, with DJs playing and people spilling out into the street – it’s legal to drink in the street here. Some of the staff speak English, so you’ll feel welcome. One small issue: there's only one toilet and for some reason they didn’t bother to put a lock on the door.
Image Credit: LeccoMilano Facebook