By Rosalie Molloy
Balmy Summer afternoons call for entertaining. Whether it’s an intimate gathering, or a whole family affair, this is what Summer is made for and sometimes you just need to know where to begin. This is your guide to hosting your own dreamy Italian inspired gathering this season.
You have to set the scene, and this comes down to perfect timing. Choose a time when the sun hangs low in the sky and saturates the earth with orange and terracotta hues.
As far as styling goes I’ll always start with the foundation. Curating a setting that is reminiscent of a Tuscan vineyard is all part of the charm, so don’t be afraid to take it to the next level. For me this means, layers of crushed linens in warm natural hues. This might be a lush low-line, picnic forming your table-scape or an existing dining table. Whatever the setting lashings of linen is a necessity.
Then come more textures. Layering on artisan ceramics, crockery and some vintage glassware. Crystal cut glasses throw dancing shadows and opalescent hues, but in this case, the bigger the glass, the better so make that your focal point.
I’ll always, always incorporate freshness to trigger olfactory senses. Scattered citrus, spilling from it’s woven basket – like you just picked it from your Nonna’s orchard – adds touches of height and colour that is both unassuming and striking. Hand-picked herbs often find themselves in the mix. Basil is a fan-favourite that both looks and smells delicious, but I’ve also been known to sprinkle bunches rosemary and thyme. The fragrance is unparalleled and amplifies the bold Italian flavours.
Greet your guests with the dreamiest of aperitifs, an Aperol Spritz, of course! Preparing an Aperol Spritz is easy, fill a large wine glass with ice, combine equal parts Prosecco and Aperol add a splash of soda then garnish. For a modern take on a cult classic, consider garnishing with a slice of candied blood orange and pre-prepare carafes of Aperol spritz using the same equal parts recipe then you can tuck away in the fridge. Just add a half a cup of ice, pour and serve.
A grazing board is the perfect compliment to your perfect Aperol Spritz. Make sure you pile yours with seasonal, local produce playing with colour and flavour. Plenty of charcuterie, with a balance of both soft and hard cheese (fresh mozzarella always!), ciabatta, olives, and honeycomb are my non-negotiables. Then litter grapes, berries, and nuts throughout. Never too carefully though, spilling over the sides and creating a look that appears effortless and bountiful.
A carefully curated playlist will set the mood, with acoustic tunes just loud enough to be background music to the laughter.
With an Aperol Spritz in hand. Here’s to long summer afternoons ahead, Italian style.