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Aperitivi – Happy Hour Italian Style

A pre-dinner drink for relaxing, socializing and enjoying a glass of vino with a few nibbles – sounds like happy hour !  The aperitivo is a time-honored ritual, a drink in the early evening to sit and unwind, and enjoy the atmosphere of the piazza, bar, venue and good company. It’s also said to stimulate the appetite for the upcoming meal.

The tradition is more often found in the north, where it was in vogue in the 1800s in elegant bars in cities like Torino, Genoa, Firenze, Venice, and Rome. It’s now spread around the country.

Drinks come with snacks, sometimes as simple as peanuts and chips, or more elaborate nibbles like finger sandwiches, pizza rounds, bruschetta and olives.

Even have aperitivo buffets , making it a nice, light, inexpensive dinner alternative with cheese and vegetable puff pastries,  seafood cocktails, truffle canapés.

The appetizers are called stuzzichini” or if you are in Venice, “cicchetti ”.

Each bar has its own signature cocktails, though wine, Prosecco (a dry sparkling wine) and Campari remain perennial favorites. For those who don’t want alcohol, try one of the non-alcoholic beverages specially made for the aperitivo hour, such as Crodino or Bitter. Non-alcoholic fruit drinks are always available, too. If you want to try something new, ask the waiter for the house specialty (aperitivo della casa).

Here’s a run-down of the most popular aperitivo drinks:

Spritz – A Venetian classic, it’s made with Campari or Aperol and prosecco.

Bellini – An invention of the famed Harry’s Bar in Venice, it’s made with peach juice and prosecco.

Rossini – An off-shoot of the Bellini but with strawberry juice and prosecco.

Tintoretto – Ditto, but with pomegranate juice

Sgroppino – A summer refresher, it starts with a dollop of lemon sorbet with a drizzle of limoncello on top and then the flute glass is filled with prosecco. In the south it’s commonly made with orange instead.




In Liguria, the Frantoio di Sant’Agata d’Oneglia celebrates its first 190 years. Of passion, tenacity and dedication. A story of excellence, signed by the Mela family, ambassadors of the thousand forms of Taggiasca Olives.


In Liguria, the Frantoio di Sant’Agata d’Oneglia celebrates its first 190 years. Of passion, tenacity and dedication. A story of excellence, signed by the Mela family, ambassadors of the thousand forms of Taggiasca Olives.

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