What’s the process for the Italian Aperitivo?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

What is the Italian Aperitivo?

The Italian Aperitivo is a pre-dinner ritual that is deeply ingrained in Italian culture. It’s a time for friends and family to gather and enjoy a light meal and drinks before dinner. The term "aperitivo" comes from the Latin word "aperire," which means "to open." The idea behind the aperitivo is to "open" the appetite before the main meal.

The Italian Aperitivo is not just about the food and drinks, but also about the social aspect of it. It’s a time to catch up with friends and family, unwind from a busy day, and enjoy the company of others. It’s a time to slow down, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

History of the Italian Aperitivo

The origins of the Italian Aperitivo can be traced back to the 19th century in the city of Turin. In 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano created the first vermouth, a fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices. It quickly became popular as an aperitif drink, and other Italian cities followed suit.

In the early 20th century, the aperitivo became a fashionable social event, particularly in Milan. Bars and cafes would offer a selection of drinks and small snacks to enjoy before dinner. Today, the aperitivo is still a popular tradition in Italy, and many bars and cafes offer aperitivo specials.

What time is Aperitivo in Italy?

Aperitivo in Italy typically starts around 6 pm and lasts until 9 pm. It’s a time to unwind after work and catch up with friends and family before dinner. In some cities, aperitivo can start as early as 4 pm or as late as 10 pm, depending on the location and the culture.

The most popular aperitivo drink in Italy is the Aperol Spritz, which is made with Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water. Other popular drinks include the Negroni, made with gin, Campari, and vermouth, and the Americano, made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water. Wine is also a popular choice for aperitivo, particularly Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, and Chianti.

How to pair food with Aperitivo drinks

The food served during aperitivo is typically light and easy to eat. Popular snacks include olives, nuts, bruschetta, crostini, and cheese. It’s important to choose food that complements the flavors of the drinks. For example, salty snacks like olives and nuts pair well with aperitivo drinks, while sweet snacks like fruit and pastries are best reserved for dessert.

Aperitivo Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

When enjoying aperitivo in Italy, it’s important to follow a few etiquette rules. Do order drinks and food at the bar or counter rather than sitting at a table. Don’t order a cappuccino, as it’s considered a breakfast drink. Do pace yourself, as aperitivo is meant to be a leisurely event. Don’t forget to pay for your drinks and food before you leave.

Where to go for the best Aperitivo in Italy

Some of the best places to enjoy aperitivo in Italy include Milan, Turin, Venice, and Florence. In Milan, the Navigli district is a popular spot for aperitivo, while in Turin, the Piazza Vittorio Veneto is a must-visit. Venice is known for its "bacari," small bars that offer aperitivo and cicchetti (small snacks), while in Florence, the Piazzale Michelangelo offers stunning views of the city.

Hosting an Aperitivo at home: Tips and Tricks

Hosting an aperitivo at home is a great way to bring a little bit of Italy to your own home. Some tips for hosting a successful aperitivo include choosing a variety of drinks and snacks, keeping it simple, and having fun. You can also create a theme, such as a regional aperitivo or a Prosecco tasting.

Aperitivo vs. Happy Hour: What’s the difference?

While both aperitivo and happy hour are pre-dinner events, there are some key differences. Aperitivo is a more formal and traditional event, while happy hour is more casual. Aperitivo is typically associated with Italian culture, while happy hour is more of an American tradition. Aperitivo focuses more on small snacks and drinks, while happy hour often includes discounted drinks and appetizers.

How Aperitivo has influenced Italian culture

The Italian Aperitivo has had a significant impact on Italian culture. It’s a time for friends and family to come together, to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. It’s also a way to support local businesses, as many bars and cafes offer aperitivo specials. The aperitivo is a symbol of Italian hospitality, and it’s a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Conclusion: The Art of the Italian Aperitivo

The Italian Aperitivo is more than just a pre-dinner ritual. It’s a time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the company of others. It’s a time to savor the flavors of Italy and to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Whether you’re in Italy or at home, the aperitivo is a tradition that can be enjoyed by all.

Additional Resources: Books and Recipes

  • "Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail" by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau
  • "Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy" by Marisa Huff
  • Aperol Spritz recipe: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/aperol-spritz
  • Negroni recipe:
  • Bruschetta recipe:
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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