• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

A beginner's guide to aperitivo in Italy

Patrick Browne · 23 Jun 2015, 15:45

Published: 23 Jun 2015 15:45 GMT+02:00

They are long leisurely affairs to be undertaken with friends in early or late evening, the food is usually more than decent and they are affordable even on the most meagre of budgets. All you need to do is buy a drink and your food is free. Shall we?

I'd really love to go out to dinner, but I can't afford it...

It's only going to cost €5-12 depending where we go. Are you sure you don't want to come? I know an excellent place....

Okay then. But it's my first time...

Well don't look so nervous. We're only going to the pub for an apericena.

Apericena? I thought you said Aperitivo?

Good point. A standard pre-dinner drink becomes an aperitivo when it is accompanied by more than just nuts or crisps. Maybe a small starter of goats cheese, olives, or something like that.

You can be sure you're at an apericena however, when your drink is accompanied by dinner in the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Confusingly, the word aperitivo is often used to describe this too, which will probably annoy the traditionalists but hey-ho, we didn't make the rules.

Now that that's out the way we're ready to get going. All you need to do is order a drink.

But what should I drink?

For a traditional style aperitivo, a light (usually dry or bitter drink) will be consumed. Favourites include, Campari, Vermouth, Negroni, Aperol Spritz and Prosecco – but anything goes really. If you hit the right bar at the right time you can have your aperitivo with anything from a Weissbier to a mojito.

Remember that it's going to be accompanying food, so excessively sweet or creamy cocktails are a no-no. But by far the most important thing is to take it slowly, and socialize.

Socialize? I normally just inhale my food and down my pint of lager...

No. The apericena/aperitivo is a social event. It's where you go on a first date, or to catch up with an old friend.

They're great if you're on a limited budget, too, so expect to find lots of hard-up and hungry students, travellers, and young professionals – all of whom will be chatting away noisily. So be prepared to talk.

What else do I need to know?

The aperitivo has an interesting history, and despite its popularity across different areas of Italy it is very much associated with Turin. Although some anthropologists claim the idea of a pre-dinner drink stretches back as far as the ancient Egyptians, the creator of the modern day aperitivo is generally credited as being Antonio Benedetto Carpano.

Carpano is known as the inventor of Vermouth which he first made in Turin in 1786 by infusing Moscato white wine with herbs and spices. Apparently the drink was considered perfect for opening the stomach before a good meal.

Within no time at all, the shop where Antonio worked on in piazza Castello was the most popular bar in Turin. Fast forward a couple of hundred years and the aperitivo culture is still very much part of daily life in Italy..

Thanks! My new friends loved that aperitivo story. But I'm still hungry and have finished my food. What can I do?

Look, the idea is to eat until you are full. The plates are normally tiny plastic things, so don't feel bad about going back for seconds (or thirds). You don't need to buy another drink.

In fact, you probably shouldn't buy another drink. Usually during aperitivo hours the prices of drinks are inflated because that's how the bars make their money.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Patrick Browne (patrick.browne@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stress tests to show extent of problems at Italy's oldest bank
The ancient headquarters of Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace

Stress test results for Europe's top banks come out Friday and all eyes will be on Italy's embattled Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS) - the world's oldest bank.

Video
Tourists blame Google for drive in car-free Venice
Cars are not allowed to enter Venice. Photo: Screengrab/La Nuova Venezia

“Google Maps sent us this way.”

Italy launches hard-hitting campaign to put off migrants
Migrants arriving in Reggio Calabria, in southern Italy. Photo: Giovanni Isolino/AFP

People thinking about making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean are being encouraged to "make an informed decision" by a shocking Italian campaign.

Filthy Rome's rubbish problem 'fixed within a month'
Rome's new council say the city will be clean 'by August 20th'. Photo:Andreas Solaro/AFP

The heaps of rubbish on Rome's streets will be consigned to the dustbin of history next month. That's the plan, at least.

Pope aide investigated over child abuse claims: Australia
Vatican finance chief George Pell is being investgated by police. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Australian police said on Thursday they are investigating child abuse complaints against Vatican finance chief George Pell, but had not yet decided whether to press charges.

20 KG ice 'meteorite' destroys car in central Rome
Experts think the ice fell from the undercarridge of a jet. Photo: Olivier Cabaret

Investigators say the huge piece of ice probably fell from a passing jet plane.

The Local List
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Photo: Alberto Fava/Flickr

When you move to Italy, you're bound to make a few mistakes before you settle into la dolce vita. Here are a few to look out for...

What we learned from Theresa May’s first visit to Italy as PM
UK PM Theresa May met Italian PM Matteo Renzi in Rome on Wednesday, Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in Rome on Wednesday for a lunch meeting her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renz. The pair discussed Brexit, the migrant crisis and the terrorist threat facing Europe.

Two arrested over WhatsApp terrorism probe
The two men had been living in Italy for years. Photo: Raffaele Esposito/Flickr

A WhatsApp message mistakenly sent to a woman in Liguria sparked a full-blown terror probe.

Italian team finds vaccine against western diet's ills
An Italian team have discovered a vaccine that could protect against illnesses caused by the typical western diet. Photo: Alpha/Joe Flintham/Flickr

The vaccine could reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and heart problems commonly associated with obesity.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,576
jobs available