FeaturesThe Collection

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

As daylight fades, Italy’s streets spring to life. Photographer Francesco Lastrucci shares snapshots of sundown drinks as the aperitivo hour takes hold in Florence

Words by Laura Richards

Photography by Francesco Lastrucci

florence aperitivo hour
The Collection

The term ‘aperitivo’ has come to mean many things to many people, particularly as the phrase has been diluted with the passage of time. The name of that liminal period between the working day and the evening meal has its origins (born around the 1700s in conjunction with the arrival of vermouth to the city of Turin) in the ‘opening’ of the appetite for what’s to follow, and it has generally come to encompass something bitter to drink and something salty to snack on. It quickly found its place at the centre of social life in Italy, and the ritual is now engrained in the country’s culture.

Punters maximise on the output of a city that gave birth to the Negroni and is on the doorstep of the Chianti region

These days, in regions all over Italy, you’ll clock punters occupying the pavements and piazzas with their friends after hours. Although there are no major deviations to the format, with each city comes a different flavour. In Florence, for example, you’ll find plenty of tourists dipping their toes into the lively scene, maximising on the appetising output of a city that gave birth to the Negroni and sits just on the doorstep of the Chianti Classico zone. But as these pictures demonstrate, the tradition continues to be just as much a part of daily life for locals. Glasses of red abound, often accompanied by generous plates of coccoli (deep-fried dough balls) with prosciutto and stracchino (soft, tangy cheese), or crostini neri, a Tuscan speciality that sees crusty rounds of toast artfully smeared with chicken-liver pâté.

Customers come and go in the late afternoon at Il Santino in the Oltarno district, a bar whose size belies a 200-strong list of local wines. Glasses come with crostini draped in freshly cut prosciutto

Il Santino bar in florence
outside Il Santino wine bar, florence
guests enjoy aperitivo outside Il Santino in florence

Wine buffs flock to Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina for its extensive library of Chianti Classico back vintages and a smattering of considered options from Piedmont and Montalcino, introduced by its knowledgeable sommelier team

staff pour wine at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina
The bar at Florence's Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina
Guests order wine at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina

Social gatherings on Piazza Santa Croce are fuelled by Aperol Spritz

aperitivo hour in Piazza Santa Croce

As the day draws to a close in Florence, aperitivi turn to dinner by candlelight…

A florence street at dusk