If you are around Italy early in the evening (around 6-7 pm), you will see most of the bars getting crowded little by little.
It could be a couple of people, or it could be a full table. However, they will all have a drink in their hands while snacking on some food.
While here in the US, we celebrate happy hour, Italian will break their working day in a fancier way: with an Aperitivo.
It’s is all year round event; however, when the warmer season arrives, that’s when bars will start crawling. Tables and chairs are “blossoming” everywhere in the streets as most bars will prepare for the warmer season extending their space with outdoor patios (called dehors.)
Cracking the Aperitivo Code
The history of Aperitivo outlines the importance of a break from work in the Italian lifestyle. Furthermore, it serves to find a time of day in which it is possible to catch up or socialize with friends before going back to the family.
Aperitivo originated in Turin in 1786 thanks to distiller Antonio Benetto Carpano and his Vermouth, a delicious muscat wine mixed with herbs and spices. Carpano Shop soon became very popular due to this new drink, and in no time, people were gathering there after work with friends to enjoy a glass of it.
By 1880 “The Vermouth Hour” was a trend among all social classes. It became so fashionable that De Amicis wrote about it in its book “Torino 1880”. Liquors’ shops were crowded, and this social initiative soon spread out in many other regions in Italy. Competitors started creating new drinks such as Ramazzotti, Campari, Martini, Cinzano, Gancia, Cocchi, and bars to offer a few snacks (or “stuzzichini” ) to go along.
Nowadays you can enjoy Aperitivo all over Italy: from small country villages to the bigger cities.
Some bars offer such a rich variety of food that you will hardly feel the need to have dinner afterward. In some cities, the Apericena has replaced Aperitivo, which means you will have enough food to get you stuffed for dinner.
Most of the bars will have good competition on how big their buffets are. Some others are even going all the way from starter to dessert, just like an authentic dinner.
A drink and infinite goes to the buffet will usually cost you around € 12, since the global Pandemic now food is served straight to the table.
Six most popular Aperitivos
- Spritz: it was launched in 1919 and, up to today, is one of the favorite choices for Aperitivo. It is the perfect combination of Prosecco, Soda Water, and either Campari or Aperol topped up with a slice of Orange.
- Hugo: originally from Alto Adige (North East Region in Italy), this drink is getting extremely famous all over the National Territory. a low-alcohol cocktail made of prosecco, elderberry syrup, Seltz water, and fresh mint leaves and it falls into the “Spritz category.”
- Negroni: It’s a cocktail made of equal parts of Gin, Bitter Campari, and Red Martini shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. It is relatively strong, so you better eat those “stuzzichini” like there is no tomorrow, or you might not be able to stand up from your table.
- Prosecco: this unique wine is so versatile that it can be drunk on its own or part of some cocktails.
- Peach Bellini: A must if you are visiting Venice. This fancy drink usually drank in a flute is a delicate mix of prosecco and white peaches purée. It was invented in 1945 in Harry’s Bar to honor the painter Giovanni Bellini.
- Americano: One of the first cocktails to be consumed during the Vermouth Hour. It was created in 1860 by Mr. Campari mixing Vermouth, Campary, and Soda water. Mr. Campari named the cocktail to honor Primo Carnera, the first non-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship in the USA.
So if you are planning a trip to Italy this summer, make sure not to miss out on this fancy “ Italian ritual”! Don’t forget to ask what is included in the Aperitivo, especially if you have planned dinner afterward.
In case you want to recreate this fancy atmosphere in your house, then grab some of the liquors that we mentioned before, and have some snacks to go along with it: olives, platters of cheese and cured meat, some vegetables, and any other food you feel it will give you a Mediterranean vibe!