Luigi “Gigi” Andreoli rushes back and forth between his small café and the outside areas it caters to. On the inside, Gigi and other employees squeeze past one another in the cramped space along the bar counter and the even tighter space behind the bar, each holding food or wine or both.
This is the Raffaello Caffè during “aperitivo” on any given day. Aperitivo is the Italian version happy hour. It typically starts after work and continues until dinner, which Italians have after 8 p.m. During aperitivo, cafés will serve free food with an order of alcoholic drinks. This is in addition to the chips and peanuts typical of American bars and here.
The distinguishing feature of aperitivo is the hand-made, delicious appetizers given to café customers so they won’t drink on an empty stomach. [...]