Why is this not something embraced worldwide!! Aperitivi, the height of Italian sophistication, a light informal meal served from a table by the bar to accompany drinks. Served from lunchtime onwards, you can help yourself to delectable little bites of Italian genius. A great way to prevent drunken loutish behaviour, not that the Italians seem to go in for binge drinking though.

My favourite so far is pork meatballs served in the most amazing tomato sauce I have ever tasted. The crudité of fennel also, served with oil, vinegar and pepper, is incredible. Slices of prosciutto cotto and crudo, little pieces of pizza and foccacia. Ah, the list is endless!

Not only is it served in bars though. My new job as an au pair in the evenings leads me to spend time with the family over supper and while the father is cooking the mother and I drink wine and eat aperitivi while conversing in pigeon Italian. The father and I share a great love of food and cooking, sharing stories of the amazing market in town. The market is a place to spend the whole morning, chatting with the stall holders and tasting bits and pieces of cheeses and salsa di truffo and then having a little snack with a café before making your purchases. Ah, bellisimo!!

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