There is so much to love about Italy and its culture. The food and the wine. Beautiful art and ancient ruins. Crazy driving down narrow streets and laid back coffee culture in impressive piazzas. Gardens, the weather, the language and the friendliness of locals all feature highly. But my favourite thing? Italian aperitivo time.

I love the idea of the Italian aperitivo. A pre-dinner drink to whet the appetite for dinner. A way to unwind after work or a simple way to catch up with friends, it’s a concept I can totally get down with. And whilst it may not have quite made it over to the UK, Italian aperitifs are starting to feature heavily on bar menus across major UK cities.

So what actually is it, and how can you get a piece of it?

Aperitivo Time

Not to be mistaken with the happy hour that we hold so dearly in the UK and US, aperitivo time at its heart is enjoying a cocktail and having some snacks. But it’s origins go far deeper. Whilst there are many versions of how the aperitivo became big news in Italy, it was in the 1920s that this trend really started to take off in Milan. It’s not just any cocktail before dinner – it’s a bitter drink served with small foods like olives and crackers and Milan have led the way in cementing this into Italian culture.

On my food tour in Testaccio, I learnt that the word aperitivo has Latin origins which literally means to open – or in this case to start your appetite. Italians believe pretty strongly that the best way to whet your appetite is by partaking in a bitter drink with a few snacks so that when you eat you are fully ready for what is to come. Pre-drinking and eating? Oh Italy I love you.

Have you heard of the Italian aperitivo? Here's why you absolutely need to get on it!Click To Tweet

Aperitivo Time

So what do you actually drink? Typically drinks would include some sort of bitter liqueur like Aperol and Campari mixed with other things and if you are not used to them they can taste a little hard – or bitter! You’ll usually find an Aperol Spritz (my one true love) which is a mix of Aperol, prosecco and soda over ice. Also on the menu will be a Negroni which is a mix of Campari, gin and vermouth (and kind of blows my head off so I definitely have to be in the right mood) or an Americano (Campari, vermouth and soda). It’s also common to find wine, prosecco or indeed other more common cocktails on the menu, but the aperitivo should be bitter and dry to experience it at its fullest.

On my food tour I discovered that actually Italy are not great producers of spirits such as gin but Aperol and Campari are all the way Italian so you can be sure you are having an authentic experience.

Aperitivo Time

Whilst aperitivo culture is said to have originated in Milan, you’ll find an aperitivo pretty much everywhere in Italy. I’ve partaken in a pre dinner aperitivo in Rome, Pisa, Florence and Naples (and as I said, even London) and whilst the concept is the same there have been differences in the snacks provided or the mix of drinks. For example I ordered a spritz in Florence and it was made with Campari instead of Aperol as I hadn’t specified. Much of it can be down to the bartenders preference.

Depending on where you are, you can expect to pay anywhere from 6EUR to 13EUR for an aperitivo, which is usually one drink and one selection of snacks. If you are in the high tourist areas for example in Rome you’ll pay the higher price, but in Naples it was much lower.

Aperitivo Time

Whilst you are not supposed to fill up on all the snacks, in some places you are provided with rather a lot for this all in cost, so if you are trying to keep things cheap in Italy whilst still partaking in a drink or two, I have to tell you it’s entirely possible. But given the fact that in Italy it’s unusual to start eating dinner before 8.30pm, if you are anything like me you have room to indulge in both!

I definitely want to make Italian aperitivo time part of my culture at home, so as the weather gets lighter you may find me in the garden with a Spritz an olives as my dinner is cooking!

Have you got into the aperitivo culture yet?

Italy | Aperitivo Time | European Travel | Travel Tips

Italy | Aperitivo Time | European Travel | Travel Tips

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  • Aperitivo time is my absolute fave! x
    Sophie Cliff

    • I need to make a daily spritz an actual thing. That’s normal, right?!

  • I LOVE Spritz! My husband and I had our first date in Venice and you better believe we had spritz. It has great memories for me and I need to go back!

    • A first date in Venice?! That is pretty cool! <3

  • Danielle

    Aperitivo time should be a thing all over the world! My absolute fave!

    • My fave too – I’m trying to make it a thing at home!

  • Sona Sethi

    I would also want to visit Italy over and over again for the delicious food and really romantic feel! Great shots. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much – I hope you get to Italy soon. Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • Adrianna Vogel

    Aperitivo sounds amazing ! Light drink before food. Normally when I go to happy hour I am getting too full of those cocktails and I have no room for food. And it would be a shame not to eat in Italy with all those amazing dishes !

    • You definitely have to pace yourself in Italy, too much food and too little time! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • Ipanema Travels

    Just give me an Americano and don’t tell me about the rest… hehe… I love the idea of an aperitivo so I’m pretty much practicing it at home.

    • Americano’s are perfection – I find Negroni’s a little strong! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • Glimpses of The World

    Love the aperitivo time, it’s such a great Italian concept to be outside, relax and chat with people. Didn’t know much about the origin of the custom, thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • Pleasure! I think its such a fantastic custom, a relaxed pre-dinner ritual. I’d love to have more of that sort of custom in the UK! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • John

    Aperitivo time is right up my alley! I need to get to Italy soon!

    • Italy is one of my most favourite countries – you’ll really love it and Aperitivo Time is just an added bonus! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • My sister and I went to Italy in March and we started with Aperol Spritz and havent stopped since. I love the apertivo culture!

    • Haha – once you start you can’t stop! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  • That’s something new that I did learn today. Would love to experience this while we are in Italy later during this year. The drink looks tempting though.

    • I hope you can get a spritz in on your trip! Where are you visiting?

  • Christina

    I tried to like sptriz while in Italy so much, but I just do not like it. I do not like bitter alcohols πŸ™ but the olives and snacks I loved!!! Your picture of olives bring back a lot of nice taste bud memories. The coffee/chocolate drink on the right of your first picture was also calling my name πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed reading a little bit about the history of aperitifs. Thank you

    • I definitely think it is a taste that you need to get used to for sure – I find Campari a little much for me personally. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • The olives definitely appeal. Not too sure of the spritz and other drinks through. Loved your pics of the drinks… Those do tempt you to at least try out the stuff πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for stopping by – the olives were just incredible, definitely makes a difference eating them there!

  • Chiara Cisario

    I’m from Italy and I’ve tried this before, definitely a must, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • It’s great to hear that it’s so part of your culture!

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