It’s no secret that Venetians, well-known or anonymous, cherish their hometown favorite and, purportedly, Italy’s signature aperitivo (cocktail), the Spritz Veneziano (Venetian Spritz).

Made with the Fratelli Barbieri ‘s secret bitter Aperol, a healthy amount of Prosecco, a splash of soda water, one green olive and a slice of orange, the Venetian Spritz is THE drink of La Serenissima.

Spritz Campari | ©Tom Palladio Images

On the other side of the country, due west of the Lagoon, is Milan, the Bel Paese’s button-down business and banking hub in the Lombardia region AND an epicenter for world fashion.

Like Venice, Milan, the other half of the old Regno Lombardo-Veneto (Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia), was under Austrian rule (House of Habsburg-Lorraine) for quite some time during the 18th and 19th centuries and fell victim to the occupier’s practice of spritzen (German for splashing), diluting strong Italian wine with splashes of water.

If Venice covets Aperol, then the same can be said of Milan and its beloved Campari.

Spritz Campari | ©Tom Palladio Images

An alcoholic liqueur, Campari is in the family of amari (bitters) and is an infusion of approximately 80 herbs, plants and fruit. Supposedly, only three members of the Campari inner circle know the exact ingredients that go into this bitter, and they’re not talkin’.

Campari was created back in 1860 by Gaspare Campari, a master drink maker who honed his craft serving up his creations to the elite of Turin. Eventually, he brought his talent, the secret bitter and his namesake brand to Milan where he launched the family business (restaurant, bar and wine shop) under a large Campari sign in the iconic Galleria di Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s oldest enclosed shopping mall named in honor of the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.

Spritz Campari | ©Tom Palladio Images

Campari‘s distinctive red color was an immediate hit after its first pour and gave rise to the national pastime of drinking aperitivi — a simple excuse to join up with friends or business partners at a local watering hole to discuss the day’s events, close a deal or plot the future. Yes, we can all give thanks to Signor Campari for this refreshing daily ritual.

Today, Campari, the “red passion,” is the essential ingredient for a host of internationally-known aperitivi: Negroni, l’Americano, Garibaldi, Spritz and other short and long drinks. We’ll get to them all, one glass at a time, starting with the crowd-pleasing Spritz Campari.

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Spritz Campari | ©Tom Palladio Images

Spritz Campari | ©Tom Palladio Images
Step-1: Fill a large wine glass with ice

Step-2: Pour in the Campari

Step-3: Add the water

Step-4: Add the Prosecco

Step-5: Float the orange slice on top

Step-6: Cin Cin!

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Milan and Venice, once united under a single kingdom during Austrian rule, now separated by two bottles of bitter. If given the choice, which one would you choose, Aperol or Campari?

©The Palladian Traveler

Note: Don’t miss the Italian Food, Wine and Travel (ItalianFWT) Twitter chat this Saturday, May 7th at 11 a.m. EST @ #ItalianFWT to talk about Italy’s Lombardia region. To prep for the chat, just click on the following blogs. 

Vino TravelsChiavennasca of Lombardia vs. Nebbiolo of Piedmont
The Wining HourVines and Views of Valtellina Valley
Culinary Adventures of CamillaSbrisolana and Cantina Casteggio Barbera
Girls Gotta DrinkFranciacorta Wine Region: Italian Sparkling Wine For the Win!
Enofylz Wine BlogFranciacorta: The World Class Italian Sparkling Wine 
Food Wine ClickValtellina: Another Expression of Nebbiolo
Orna O’ReillySirmione: Pearl of Lake Garda
Cooking Chat: Grilled Halibut with Parsley Pesto and Wine from Lombardia
L’Occasion36 Hours in Lombardy
Vignette CommunicationsLombardia: A Wealth of Wine

And, next month, June 4th, ItalianFWT‘s spotlight will fall on the Liguria, completing its first tour around all 20 of the Bel Paese‘s regions.

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

27 comments

  1. Campari for me…and those Milanese would be shocked my spritz is ice, Campari, a dash of orange juice a slice of orange and then soda on a hot summer’s day

  2. I would have to go with Campari, only because I had never heard of Aperol until today (I know, shameful). We will be spending next weekend in a funky little Sierra Nevada town, and I will test the bartender and ask for a Campari Spritz and just see how good they are 🙂

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