While it’s never quite the same, it’s fun to try and recreate some of your favorite vacation memories at home. Like Italian apertivo hour.

I still remember the night so well. Will and I were in Siena and it looked like it was going to storm any second. The clouds were eerie—ominous, really—a few droplets of rain threatened to jeopardize any hope of eating outside in Piazza del Campo.

But whatever reason, the storms never materialized. And it left us with a glorious backdrop for apertivo hour. Since the Italians eat dinner a little later than we do, we enjoyed a little lead-up to the festivities. At the restaurant we stopped by they served pepper-y potato chips and an assortment of olives with a pre-dinner drink (an Aperol Spritz for me, a glass of wine for him).

So for last minute’s book club, I thought I’d recreate the Siena apertivo experience with a peach bellini to start.

I made the decidedly Italian American treat, toasted ravioli with marinara for dipping. Two different toppings for Bruschetta from Laura Vitale’s new cookbook At My Italian Table (my favorite was the whipped ricotta with honey and pistachios). I made my favorite tortellini pasta salad, served a bunch of charcuterie and Parmesan crisps, and rounded out the table with warm olives with lemon and garlic.

Everyone served themselves, and we discussed Debbie Macomber’s Most Love Flowers. All in all, a pretty fantastic way to spend an evening. Even without a stormy sky for ambience.