What is an aperitivo? And how do you enjoy it?

If you want to experience local culture in Italy, be sure to take part in aperitivo hour.
Afterall, it’s a time-honored Italian tradition that brings people together.
In North America, you might think of it as happy hour. But Italian aperitivo isn’t quite the
same idea. For instance, there won’t be any 2-for-1 drinks.
In this post, we’ll fill you in on what aperitivo in Italy is all about and how to do it.
And, since we’re obsessed with Tuscany wine tours, we’re going to make a case for
sipping wine as an Italian aperitif.

What is an aperitivo?

An aperitivo is an Italian drink that you savor at the end of the workday. The term
comes from the Latin word “aperire”, which means “to open”. Basically, it’s a pre-dinner
warm-up to stimulate the appetite.

It isn’t just about drinking though. It’s a time to unwind and share a drink and some
tasty bites with friends or family.

When is aperitivo in Italy?

It varies by region, but aperitivo hour usually takes place between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. It
can start as early as 6 p.m. in some places, particularly in smaller towns.
Since most Italians eat dinner at 8 or 9 p.m., it’s a good opportunity to relax before the
main event.

What to have for your aperitivo drink

An aperitivo drink is typically a light and refreshing cocktail or a glass of wine.
Often, an aperitivo bar will serve a drink that includes bitter liqueurs like an Aperol Spritz
or Campari and soda.
Naturally, we think the best aperitivo is Italian wine. We recommend light, low-alcohol
wines that don’t need to be served with food or that go well with snacks.
An obvious choice is Prosecco. A light glass of the bubbly will make your saliva flow,
perfect to whet the appetite.

White and rosé wines are popular too. especially those that are aromatic, fresh and
fruity. You may want to try a crisp Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany, like this
. For a rosé, you’ll enjoy sipping this one, made with 90% Sangiovese grapes.
You don’t have to rule out the reds for aperitivo hour, as long as they’re light and young.
In this case, we recommend Barbera, a very drinkable wine from the Piedmont region of

What about aperitivo food?

Aperitivo bars typically serve light charcuterie items, like olives, meats, cheeses, and
crackers or bread. These may be served with your drink or available buffet-style.
But remember, you don’t want to fill up on snacks and drinks during Italian aperitivo. In
our culture, the idea is to prepare for the fantastic dinner to come, and to enjoy the

Learn more about Italian traditions on our popular Tuscany wine tasting tour to three
Chianti wineries.