Lisa Gregis had a hard Thursday. “Yesterday we had our weekly Aperitivo. It was great, but also tough”, says the exhausted President of AEGEE-Bergamo. No wonder, organising a huge event with food, drinks, games and music for up to 500 participants on a weekly basis is a hard job – when your antenna does a lot of other activities as well. And yet, many Italian antennae cannot imagine AEGEE without it. “Probably 20 out of 27 Italian locals are organizing Aperitivos of some kind”, explains Network Commissioner Mattia Abis to the Golden Times.

Aperitivo in Torino

One of these antennae is AEGEE-Torino. “An Aperitivo was originally a sort of pre-dinner where you have some snacks with a drink. Now it became a dinner where you pay 7 to 10 Euros and you have a drink and a buffet”, tells Andrea Frascisco, President of the antenna in the north of Italy. “The buffet solution is very good. We use this formula, but we improved it with some social games to make people get to know each other.”

According to Mattia Abis the Aperitivo is probably the oldest social or promotional meeting that Italian locals created. AEGEE uses the concept of the Aperitivo, which is very common in Italian society, and adapts it to its own needs. Mattia: “It is a good occasion for AEGEE locals to organize something in some pubs to give them visibility. And the owner gets more costumers, since his Aperitivo is different for something.”

AperAsmus Catania
Aperasmus in Catania

In many cases AEGEE locals organize linguistic games, for local students, Erasmus students or foreigners. “Not all Aperitivos are the same. AEGEE-Cagliari is organizing them just as social meeting and without language games, not as a promotion tool”, declares Mattia Abis.

AEGEE-Catania, on the other hand, targets specifically Erasmus students. “Promoting it as an Erasmus event gives you two big advantages”, says Alfio Bonaccorsi, Erasmus Responsible Assistant of AEGEE-Catania. “First, a big presence and great environment. Second, it helps you to gather all the people in our city that are interested in speaking foreign languages and meet new cultures.” This small trick allows AEGEE-Catania to spread the name of the antenna to a specific target group of local people.

The Aperitivos in Pisa make people talk with each other.

The Sicilian antenna makes Aperitivos usually every week; all 150 Erasmus students in Catania are invited. “A minimum of 100 up to 250 people take part, especially for the first two or three Aperitivos”, adds Alfio. At least one thematic game is part of the programme. “It could be a sangria theme, beer pong or the Olympic Games”, says Alfio. “We also provide free table games like Scrabble, Monopoly and Tabù in Italian and English.” The organisers try to mix people while playing, in order to let them share their languages. Finally at midnight the DJ makes people dance.

Up in the North, in Pisa, Monday is Aperitivo day. Every Monday, from 19.45 onwards, in average more than 100 people gather in the charming atmosphere of Blu Café. “It is an awesome bar directly connected with an ancient palace, facing the Arno river and nowadays used as museum for temporary expositions”, explains Edoardo Constantino, Social Media Editor of AEGEE-Pisa. Elena Martino, also part of the Social Media team, adds: “We are very proud to say that the Aperitivo Linguistico – Linguistic Aperitif – is one of our most important and well known local events”.

Tasty food and great atmosphere: Aperitivo in Pisa

In Pisa both local and exchange students are the target group. Edoardo Constantino: “It’s the perfect chance to establish linguistic tandems: foreigners can improve their Italian and also locals gain linguistic advantages by attending this event!” The programme is flexible. “Mainly, the evening is self-conducted by our wonderful participants! They can enjoy a rich buffet or just getting a drink at a special price, and we provide them with dictionaries and sticky notes, where we will write their name, mother tongue and languages spoken”, tells Elena Martino.

Usually the groups are fast self-made. “We just interact with them to be sure they’re enjoying their evening, to help them creating connections and to inform them about our next events”, explains Edoardo. Like in Catania also in Pisa games form an important part. Elena Martino: “We often entertain our awesome guests with funny linguistic games, usually held in English, and competitions. Prizes may be free drinks, special discounts, gadgets or even bottles of Italian wine!”

Happy Aperitivo guests in Pisa

Also AEGEE-Siena is organising Aperitivos every week. “The programme is simply: drink something, chill out and speak more possible languages. We put post-its on the shirts of every partecipants with the name and the language that the person wants to speak!”, says the antenna. The number varies between 20 and 70.

AEGEE-Bergamo chose the Thursday for their weekly date with hundreds of participants. Aperasmus is the name of the Aperitivo, which takes place every week, but other than the name suggests, exchange students are not the only participant group. “The target group are also Erasmus people, but mostly young people from Bergamo”, says Lisa Gregis, President of AEGEE-Bergamo. Each Aperitivo is dedicated to one specific country. Lisa: “For instance, yesterday night was the Spanish Night.” Between 300 and 500 people are coming to the weekly event, which has a similar programme as their counterparts in the other Italian cities: meeting people, practicing foreign languages, drinking, eating and dancing.

Aperitivo promotion in Bergamo

A successful Aperitivo can boast the spirit of the whole antenna. Like in the case of AEGEE-Torino. “This week’s Aperitivo was really good, we had 450 participants”, says a happy Andrea Frascisco. “For us this is exceptional. Last year it was really difficult to reach 50 participants. So we are quite proud of it.”

Also Lisa Gregis in Bergamo is proud of the huge number of weekly participants. And will of course be present again next Thursday, when the next Aperitivo is creating unforgettable memories for hundreds of people.