Here’s one of those simple but amazing experiences that make Italy such a fantastic culture. Recently I was in Milan on business. Milan is more of a town for working Italians and the fashion industry than a destination for tourism unless, of course, you want to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper fresco. But the day I was there it was hot and muggy and raining all day long.

So rather than get drenched trying to find a restaurant, I ran into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.  It is a beautiful structure built in the late 19th Century; four stories tall with glass ceilings and mosaic tile floors. While it is a modern shopping mall now, when it was built between 1865-77, it was designed and intended as just that ——a shopping mall.

I went to one of the mall eateries, which is so different from the food courts that we’re used to in the U.S. When I had finished eating I asked the waiter if he had grappa. When he said that he did, I took a flier and asked for grappa con lamponi or grappa that is infused with raspberry flavor.

Here in the U.S., there are many expensive infused grappas made much the same way that we infuse vodkas. He looked at me quizzically and bought out a plain bottle with a pile of berries sitting at the bottom. He stirred the bottle and poured me a glass and made sure to place several raspberries in my glass. The purpose of putting fruit in a grappa bottle is usually to make an inexpensive drink taste good. That’s why he couldn’t understand why I wanted it. All I can say is it worked and I haven’t bought an expensive bottle of infused grappa since.