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Cheap eats on the go: Milanese Aperitivo

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Milan is a city that's famous for its high culture – fashion, art and architecture. It's not the first place you'd think of for a great cheap meal, but you'd be wrong!

If you stick to the central tourist areas you'll probably find yourself eating overpriced and under-seasoned pizza and pasta. But make your way to the Porta Genova area of Milan and you'll find yourself in the heart of the aperitivo district.

Aperitivo is an Italian tradition whereby bars will, for several hours in the early evening, serve free food with their drinks. This can range from a finger buffet of snacks and canapes at a neighbourhood bar, to a spread fit for kings.

For the price of a drink – usually cocktails – at €6-7 a pop, you buy access to the bar's buffet. The selection of food on offer ranges from traditional Italian fare to Asian cuisine and sushi. Some bars will have a buffet, others will present a selection of dishes for the table to share.

It's worth having a wander around the neighbourhood before you make a decision. If it's summer you should be able to get an idea of what's on offer by having a gander at what the customers sat outside are tucking into.

There are plenty of aperitivo places with drinks prices starting around the €6 mark, but if you're on a real budget, Bar Rattazo is where it's at. With drinks from just two or three euros, they put on a tasty if less extensive buffet of finger-foods and foccacia.

If you don't fancy the trek from your hostel to the Porta Genova area, that's not a problem either. The aperitivo culture in Milan extends right across the city, so the front desk of your hotel or hostel should be able to point you towards a local one.

As part of the cafe culture ubiquitous in Western Europe, aperitivo is one of the best ways to take in the city of Milan – and since it's so cheap, who could resist?

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