In Italy, family is the center of the social structure and long, leisurely dinners—with plenty of wine—are essential. Use these ideas to bring a little of the Eternal City into your home.
Setting the scene: To give your outdoor party a Tuscan feel, sit guests at a wooden table with no tablecloth. Use empty Chianti bottles as candle holders. Hang fresh herbs like basil or rosemary in bunches for aromatic appeal. Fill the air with the sounds of Luciano Pavarotti or Andrea Bocelli.
Activities: Italians are renowned for their love of sports, and though it might be tough to hold gondola races in your backyard, you could inspire guests with an afternoon of bocce ball or soccer.
Food: It's no surprise that the national dish of Italy is pasta! There are hundreds of ways to transform your penne into a masterpiece. Try using some of Italy's favorite accompaniments like sundried tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers or parmigiano reggiano. You can even get the evening started with a tasty bruschetta or melon wrapped in prosciutto. And for dessert, gelato or tiramisu!
Drink: It is said that the average Italian drinks 26 gallons of wine a year, so why mess with tradition? But if you do, go with an Amalfi Coast favorite...Limoncello!
Party Favors: Don't let your friends go home empty-handed! Create a gift bag with a bottle of wine, some good olive oil and maybe even some chocolate-covered hazelnuts.