Italy’s best (and weirdest) hangover cures

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Italy’s best (and weirdest) hangover cures
Photo: Mic445/Flickr

Has the stress and socializing of the festive season taken its toll? If you've found yourself struck down with the mother of all hangovers, don’t worry. There’s hope – in the form of Italy’s unique hangover remedies.


Spaghetti aglio e olio

Photo: Vassilis/Flickr

This simple dish of spaghetti, oil, garlic and (optionally) chilli can work wonders. After a heavy night drinking, you may well feel like some comfort food, but instead of the usual grease try this pasta recipe – carbohydrates can help to counteract feelings of nausea and restore blood sugar levels, and if you add the chilli, the spiciness will kickstart your metabolism.

And there’s another bonus: it’s such a quick and foolproof recipe that you could even whip it up as soon as you get home after a party, allowing yourself to dodge the hangover altogether.


Photo: Salomé Chaussure/Flickr

A strong cup of coffee is the Italian cure for hangovers and all other ills, so head to your nearest café pronto. The caffeine will perk you up and help you feel ready to face the day.

But don’t overdo it, and remember to drink plenty of water too – too much coffee could actually make your headache worse and leave you dehydrated. 

Pasta carbonara

Photo: Luca Nebuloni/Flickr

If you’ve spent any time in the UK, you’ll be familiar with the English breakfast, a glorious combination of sausages, bacon, eggs and beans which many swear by as the ultimate hangover remedy.

Think of carbonara as the Italian variation of bacon and eggs – and much better for you than the stodge which fills up the rest of an English breakfast plate.

Bull’s penis

Photo: Brittgow/Flickr

Need a more extreme cure than pasta? Sicilians have sworn by pizzle, or dried bull’s penis, for years as an antidote to hangovers, and the vitamins in the delicacy are said to boost energy.

It’s not as popular as it once was – we wonder why – and is more commonly used as a treat for dogs, but if the hangover’s really bad it’s got to be worth a try…

Fernet Branca

Photo: Paul Sableman/Flickr

This Italian bitter is made with a recipe kept secret by its producers. All we know is that it contains 27 herbs and spices, including aloe, rhubarb and galangal, a combination which many Italians claim will calm down your insides and leave you revitalized.

You can add a dash of Fernet to your espresso to make a caffè corretto, or mix it with tomato juice, vodka and Worcestershire sauce for an Italian take on the Bloody Mary.


Photo: Tony/Flickr

In English this remedy is known as ‘hair of the dog’; the term translates to ‘little recall’ and refers to a small shot of alcohol taken the morning after a heavy night of drinking. But beware – many experts warn against putting more alcohol into your system as you are just postponing the inevitable hangover.


Photo: N i c o l a/Flickr

Don’t fancy trying pizzle and never want to touch alcohol again? Here’s a more palatable cure. Hopefully you’ve got plenty of panettone (Italian Christmas cake) left over to snack on – like toast, it is a bland carb which will help raise your blood glucose levels and ward off feelings of sickness.

Deep fried canary

Photo: Majd Mohabek/Flickr

The ancient Romans may be known for their wisdom, but we can’t say we recommend their hangover remedy. Deep fried canary and owls’ eggs soaked in wine were their go-to breakfasts for the morning after a heavy night, according to writings from the time.

Drink like an Italian

Photo: uosɐɾ ɹnɥʇɹɐɔɯ/Flickr

OK, if you’ve woken up with a pounding headache and are reading this from the confines of your bed, it may be too late for this ‘cure’. But the only surefire way to escape a hangover is to drink less the night before, so next time you’re out on the town, follow the lead of the Italians and swap rounds of shots for a simple digestif. Since they tend to savour their alcohol alongside a meal, alcohol abuse is less common in Italy than in many other European countries, and lots of Italians claim never to suffer hangovers.



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