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4 steps to mastering the art of Italian aperitivo

Reach for the olives and pop on our playlist.


The beloved Italian tradition, aperitivo, similar to happy hour, is served as an appetiser before dinner. The custom has evolved from the Latin word aperire which basically means ‘to open’. In this sense, aperitivo can be considered a way to open the digestive system and prepare it for the hopefully delicious meal ahead. While all this talk of the digestive system doesn’t sound too glamorous, when you think in terms of the food and drink served, it gets a little better.

Aperitivo involves sipping on an iced beverage (usually a Negroni, Aperol or Campari Spritz) and snacking on some small picky bits such as cheeses, cold meats, olives, and crackers. While these beverages are usually alcoholic, you can also go alcohol-free. Just ensure the drink is on the dry side, rather than being overly sweet.

If you haven’t experienced aperitivo in the Italian Lakes region or in Venice (or essentially anywhere else in the boot-shaped nation!), here are some steps to having one of your own right at home:

STEP 1: Gather your ingredients

Let’s start at the very beginning. The key to an indulgent yet well-balanced aperitivo is having the base ingredients. So to do that, you’re going to have to pick your cocktail.

We’re going to go with an Italian classic: the Negroni! This delicious drink is made up of equal parts of Campari, gin and sweet red vermouth, the combination being refreshing for the palate and smooth for digestion.

STEP 2: Find the perfect time

When in Italy, aperitivo tends to roll around later in the day, as locals prefer to have dinner from around 9pm. So having said that, time your aperitivo with the setting sun (for maximum relaxation!) or around 6-8pm.

STEP 3: Line up the nibbles

It’s always better to enjoy a drink with food - which is what makes aperitivo so perfect. Snacks to serve at this hour can include anything from fresh, succulent olives to simple potato crisps to fresh bread and dip. Just ensure it’s savoury and salty. 

STEP 4: Set the mood

With these long summer evenings ahead of us, why not take inspiration from the Italians, and master the art of the aperitivo, complete with a drink, snacks of your choice, and our ‘An evening in Roma’ playlist. 

Also be sure to pick a scenic location, whether it be your very own garden or balcony, or perhaps your local park! We hope the weather gods are with you and you can say salute to an Italian-inspired summer!

If you fancy experiencing this tradition on Italian soil, peruse our perfected collection of tours, travelling from the shores of Sicily to the piazzas of Pisa. Plus, we’re giving you up to 15% off all 2022, 2023, and 2024 tours until 31 July 2022.

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