Aperitivo: How to Enjoy a True Italian Happy Hour

Italians have a rich culture and many traditions they take very seriously. When you think about this European country, many things can come to your mind – delicious pizza, mouth-watering pasta, and strong espresso. But one true heritage they have cherished for centuries is the aperitivo.

It’s important to know what is aperitivo if you plan to visit Italy any time soon because you’ll want to enjoy it as the locals do. But you can also do it here in the States, and we will teach you how. 

If you wish to experience authentic Italian happy hour, visit us at Mi’talia restaurant in Miami.

What Is Aperitivo?   

Many will tell you it is Italian happy hour, and although you can describe it that way, we like to think of it as much more. It’s a way of life, a manner in which someone enjoys even the simple days.   

An aperitivi is an alcoholic beverage you take before a meal to stimulate your appetite. It’s derived from the Latin word for “opener,” describing its purpose.   

Typically, dinner is served around 9 pm in Italy, so many people start. So, going for a drink and taking a small bite to whet your appetite comes naturally. 

The concept was created with a simple thought, but it evolved into something more complex. Today this tradition developed into a social event where people meet to relax after work and catch up while drinking a cocktail, accompanied by tasty food.   

Remember that happy hour doesn’t mean the same thing in Italy as in the States. You won’t get a special offer for the drinks or discounts, but you will get free food.  

And the reason why you should adopt this custom is you’ll learn how to slow down in life, even during the workweek, and take a moment to enjoy the little things. Every day is a gift, and you shouldn’t take it for granted.   

Where Did It Originate?  

This Italian happy hour tradition originated in the northern parts of Italy, and the best place to properly experience it today is in Milan. Here you’ll find numerous bars packed with people eating delicious food, drinking light happy hour cocktails, and chit-chatting about their day. Even if they’re not located north, Rome and other bigger cities like Florence, Venezia, or even Naples are known to cherish this heritage.

Aperitivi Tradition Today 

When strolling the streets of Italy’s famous cities, you can come across many bars with aperitivo offers. You can find and choose from two options, and both are great.  

Some bars will get you a plate of various appetizing finger foods once you order a drink. While in others you can find buffet-style offers. When you order a beverage, you also get a plate that you can fill with the bites you find the most inviting. The food is free, and you can take as much as you like. 

But please, remember aperitivo is considered an appetizer. So be sure not to overdo it when filling up your plate; you still want to have dinner. 

Another thing you should keep in mind is to avoid tourist traps while wandering the streets of Milan and Rome, or any other city. Unfortunately, they are everywhere, and sometimes you may pay a bit extra for no reason. 

The prices of drinks during this pre-dinner tradition shouldn’t be too high. They should be almost the same as usual, and the only occasion you’ll pay more is if you are sitting in an exclusive hotel or a rooftop bar with a breathtaking view. 

And don’t get us wrong, you should see the spectacular view, but avoid the fancy places if you want to experience the true purpose of this tradition. You should find the bars in the narrow streets away from all the crowds and noises. There you’ll be able to enjoy it like a true Italian. 

Happy Hour Cocktails and Drinks  

When in Rome, you should do as Romans do, so you would want to try the typical Italian happy hour offer. You want to relax, forget about the stressful day at work, and prepare for dinner, so the drinks should be light and tasty. 

An aperitivo is not meant to get you drunk or to be an intro to a party night.   

That’s why a cocktail is a perfect beverage. You should choose the ones that are a bit bitter as they whet your appetite better, and they go excellent with savory and salty foods.  

When it comes to happy hour cocktails, an Aperol Spritz made with sparkling wine, soda, and Aperol bitters is one of the best choices. 

A negroni is also an excellent pungent mixer that’s slightly stronger than a spritz. It is made with Campari, a typical Italian liqueur. There’s also a version of a Negroni made with prosecco, and you should definitely try that one. 

And if you would love something sweet instead, vermouth is always a good idea. 

Of course, you can always order wine or beer or a spirit you like the most. 

Happy Hour Foods 

An aperitivo is not complete without a tasty bite. And Italy is known for its great variety of delicious foods. 

We mentioned that the drinks go well with salty and savory snacks. What kind of food you’ll get when you order a cocktail or any other beverage depends on various things. 

The offers vary from region to region, and bars also have the liberty to curate a menu they want. It’s often something small that’s easy to eat, like an abundant selection of cheeses and olives. 

Frequently, you’ll find numerous cured meats that are typical to the specific region you are currently visiting. Of course, the staple food of this country is often on the menu, the almighty pizza, but somewhere you’ll also get tiny plates of flavorful pasta. Can you imagine how charming that is?

Now you are ready to travel, explore, and enjoy everything that Italy has to offer. We know that you will have the best time of your life. 

Even if you don’t plan to travel to this European peninsula anytime soon, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this wholesome tradition. Now that you know which foods are typically eaten alongside a good cocktail, you can easily prepare it yourself and invite some friends over after work to unwind. 

Or you can simply go to your favorite bar or restaurant to slow down and enjoy your afternoon with a light drink in one hand and tasty food in the other.

If you want to experience the authentic aperitivi atmosphere, we invite you to visit the best Italian restaurant in Miami, Mi’talia. Our happy hour menu is the perfect fusion of foods and drinks to enjoy between 4 and 6 pm during the workweek. 

Call us today and book your reservation; we are happy to serve you and share our passion for all things tasty.