Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimee in FELLINI’S “La DOLCE VITA”
I had my first Campari in Rome in June of 1985, on my first of many trips to la Bella Italia. I was like a kid on Christmas Day on that first trip to Europe, Italy, Roma, the South of France and Spain. Yes it was that euphoric, and I will never forget it. I made many discoveries on that trip, discoveries like a perfectly ripe Apricots at the Campo di Fiore Market, Tramenzzini Sandwiches at a Piazza in Rome, perfectly pulled Espresso, Bucatini Amatriciana, and yes Campari, the first of many over the years.
My friend Rene Ricard told me that I should stay at The Hotel Locarno in Rome. Well I didn’t stay at Locarno as it was beyond my budget, but I did take another suggestion of Rene’s, and that was to see the two twin churches Santa Maria Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli in the Piazza di Popolo as well as go to one of the famous caffes over there for an Apertivo and eats.
Rene Ricard on the Set of ASTHMA
Well, I went into each of the two churches, which were quite lovely as Rene had said. I then walked towards the two famous caffe / restorante on the square; Rosati and Canova and had to choose between the two. As I was walking to them and surveying the situation I settled on Canova as it seemed the crowd was a little more lively over there, and it was a favorite of Federico Fellini. I picked a nice table and sat down and a minute later a waiter approached and greeted me and gave me a menu and asked if I wanted some water to start? Yes, I got a bottle of still water and a few minutes later a bottle of Fiucci was placed on my table. Before the mineral water came I was checking out the menu and spotted that they had a selection of Tramezzini Sandwiches which I had made my first discovery of the day before while eating my first meal ever in not just Rome but in all of Italy, I was enamored with these tasty little sandwiches which had all sorts of fillings and were just as tasty as can be. Yes I made my first discovery of Tramezzini Sandwiches on my first day in Rome at a little caffe at the Piazza di Republica. I got my 1st Italian Espresso and a couple Tramezzini and enjoyed those tasty little sandwiches so much at the caffe that after I had two of them, I got up and ordered two more. Don’t think I’m a gavone, these sandwiches are really small, so much so that it would take about five of these sandwiches to make one average size American one. Anyway, I ended up eating about three Tramezzini everyday for breakfast with an Espresso and Apricot Juice the whole time I was in Rome. That was my ritual colazione on that my first time in Rome.
So back to Canova and the Piazza del Popolo and my first Campari ever. Yes, I never had one before so when the waiter came back I ordered a couple Tramezzini and asked him what he suggested that I should drink? He suggested a Campari & Soda, and I went along with the suggestion. A few minutes later he came back with my two sandwiches and a good looking Campari & Soda garnished with a fresh slice of orange. I drank it, and though a little bitter, it was quite refreshing and went well with my Tramezzini. Yes that was my first of a couple thousand Campari or more over the years. After that first, I was more often to have my Campari with Orange Juice rather than soda. And when I made it up to Florence to visit my high school friend JoAnna I had my first Negroni as well. A Negroni Cocktail is a mixture of equal parts of Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Gin and was invented at the Caffe Casconi, which is now the Caffe Giacosa on the Piazza del Republica in Florence. Well guess where I had my first of many a lifelong Negroni? You guessed it, at Caffe Giacosa.
In the year 1995 when I was on an exploratory trip to Venice to research the Bacari (Venetian Wine Bars) of Venenzia in preparation of opening a Bacaro of my own in New York, I had my first ever Aperol Spritz. To do my research I want to practically every Bacaro in Vencie in the course of my eight days of exploration. One night before I was getting ready to go back to the hotel I darted into a wine bar for a little night cap. I spotted the words Aperol Spitz atop the bar and asked the bartender what it was. He told me it was a cocktail made with Prosecco, a splash of Aperol and a dash of club soda, garnished with a slice of Orange. What’s Aperol I asked? “Do you know what Campari is, he asked me. “Yes,” I told him. He told me that Aperol was very similar to Campari but a little less bitter. So I told the Barman I’d take one. He made it and I sat back and enjoyed my first of so many Aperol Spritz to come over the years. Though I’d already been to Italy several times by 1995 I’d never had Aperol before. It wasn’t even available in America to ten years later in 2005, but I’d already had my first by 95. Now in the year the Aperol Spritz has really caught on and has been quite popular for the past year or so, since about 2014. Yes as usual, I was way ahead of the curve of most Americans discovering such things, ahead of the curve by about 20 years, and when it came to the Negroni it was thirty. Anyway, these drinks have been a most enjoyable part of my social adventures for some time.
Yes I’ve had many good times with evenings started with these wonderful Italian aperitif liquors known as Aperol and Campari. For a while my cousin Joe and I would do the town every couple of weeks or so. Joe would have his driver drive us around town (New York). First off we’d go out to a wine bar, or cocktail lounge or someplace and I usually would have a Negroni to start my evening off. And I must say that having a Negroni or Campari & Soda is quite a good way to do so. After we had our Campari or Aperol cocktails we’d go out for our main meal at San Domenico, Gino’s, Elio’s, or some new restaurant we wanted to check out. So that’s me and Aperol, Campari, the Negroni Cocktail and my memories of them. What are yours? Will you make some? Why not go down to the Amalfi Coast to Capri, Positano, or Minori. Check into a hotle and spend your days in paradise; swimming, eating, soaking in the Sun and a few Aperol Spritz’s at Bar Tiberius at the Piazza Umberto in Capri or caffe somewhere in Positano or Ravello. You can’t do better in life than this, so I suggest you do so, for it’s quite civilized, and most enjoyable to boot, I think you’ll agree.
EXCERPTED From “MANGIA ITALIANO” by Daniel Bellino Zwicke
PIER PAULO PASOLINI at ROSATI
Mastrionni with Anita Ekberg being Kissed by Fellini
Filming of La DOLCE VITA
Rome , Italy
La Dolce Vita
The TWIN CHURCHES … PIAZZA POPOLO … ROME
CANOVA on The Piazza Popolo
“My 1st CAMPARI”
Vintage Campari Poster
Mastroianni Fellino Aimee and Pasolini
On The VIA VENETO , ROMA … ITALY
The Filming of La DOLCE VITA
The AMALFI COAST ITALY
“HAVE an APEROL SPRITZ”
We had this Poster hanging
in my Restaurant BAR CICHETTI
A Classic NEGRONI
Read Stories of Negroni’s, Aperol, Pizza, and Pasta
In Daniel Bellino’s MANGIA ITALIANO !
MEMORIES of ITALIAN FOOD
in New York, Rome, Venice, Sicily, Capri, Napoli, The Amalfi Coast
Room in The Hotel Locarno