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Anyone that tells you Italian aperitivo is basically like happy hour is lying. It’s so much more, and not to mention way better. Part social ritual, part dinner warm up, this evening Italian tradition consists of your choice of Italian wines, craft cocktails, draft beers or bubbly flutes of spumante (sparkling wine), all accompanied by an array of stuzzichini (appetizers). The best part is that with your aperitivo drink of choice, food always comes complimentary. This varies from place to place. Some aperitivo bars serve a full-blown buffet, while others bring a few bite-size snacks to your table.

The concept of aperitivo came to fruition with the creation of Vermouth in Turin, Italy around the mid 18th century. The theory was that this fortified wine, which came to be the liqueur known as Vermouth, stimulated the appetite prior to dinner. For this reason, you see a lot of cocktails with liqueurs and bubbly incorporated into aperitivo since both are considered to stimulate your appetite and open up your stomach during this 7-9 PM tradition.

POPULAR APERITIVO DRINKS:

  • Red or White Wine

  • Italian Draft Beer

  • Prosecco – Italian sparkling wine

  • Aperol Spritz – prosecco, Aperol, soda

  • Hugo Spritz – prosecco, St. Germaine, soda, muddled limes

  • Negroni – red vermouth, Campari, gin, orange peel  for garnish

  • Negroni Sbagliato – red vermouth, Campari, prosecco, orange peel for garnish

  • Crodino – bittersweet orange non-alcoholic carbonated aperitif

Since Italians don’t eat dinner typically until around 8:30-9:30 PM, aperitivo serves as the perfect option to explore new neighborhoods, stumble upon local bars, and tie yourself over with some tasty snacks until you can get your hands on that steaming bowl of Carbonara.

If you are in Rome and want the full guided aperitivo experience with rooftop sunset, check out details here. Not only do you get to stop at some of the best local spots in the city, but you also get access to one of my favorite spots in Rome, an in-list rooftop bar with sweeping views of Rome during sunset. 

aperitivo tour in Rome

Italian guide to aperitivo

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