🥂Did someone say aperitivo?

Don't miss out on Italy's iconic pre-meal tradition

The aperitivo is one of my favorite Italian traditions. It's the pre-dinner "stomach opener" that includes a drink and some little snacks, or, depending where you're at, a snack buffet extravaganza. Italy Magazine has a great overview in its article The Italian Aperitivo

My first introduction to an aperitivo here in Italy was waaaay back in 2001. It consisted of a prosecco served in a glass flute—so fancy!—and ... wait for it ... a bowl of potato chips! (Crisps if you aren't from the States like me).

Never in a million did I think you could drink fancy-shmancy bubbly while munching on Lays, but, as all of us who have been to the bel paese know, Italy's continuous little surprises never disappoint.

You say antipasto, I say aperitivo...

Don't confuse aperitivo with antipasto! They're not the same thing. The antipasto is an appetizer, the opening course at a restaurant. An aperitivo, on the other hand, is a social tradition all its own. 

You can order an aperitivo even at the smallest, hole-in-the-wall coffee bar. Granted, the snacks there are likely to be peanuts and chips, not an elaborate spread, but the point is that the aperitivo is a time-honored tradition that you can find pretty much everywhere across the country.

What to order

When you order an aperitivo, it generally has a fixed price. Sometimes the price can vary based on the drink, but the snacks or mini buffet are included in the price. 

The taste of many aperitivo cocktails tends towards bitter and citrus. Here are some of the most basic forms of aperitivo:


With alcohol

  • Aperol Spritz - arguably the most famous aperitivo of them all
  • Prosecco - this is the crisp, dry bubbly that goes in the Spritz, shining all on its own
  • Negroni - another classic, this one is gin and vermouth mixed with Campari bitter

My favorite place to get an aperitivo in Rome is thanks to a tip from my fabulous colleague @Sammi DiBacco. She told me about the aperitivo at Meccanismo. It's available from 6 pm to 9 pm and it isn't on the main menu, you just ask for it. You will not believe the wooden board piled high with goodies that they place before you. My friend and I paid €10 each for a cocktail and this enormous spread, and given its location in the heart of Trastevere, that's a steal: (forgive the low lighting!)

🥂 Do you have a favorite aperitivo or a recommendation for a great place in Italy? 

Let us know in the comments!