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Is It Aperitivo or Apericena? | The Correct Name is Apericena!

Most first-time visitors to Italy tend to travel to the favourite triptych cities of “Rome, Florence, and Venice.” From my research, very few travellers know about the Italian ‘aperitivo’ or ‘apericena’, and how it operates in the major Italian cities. This great Italian ritual of aperitivo as I will refer to it in this article, is something I highly recommend you discover on your next vacation to Italy.

1. What is Aperitivo?

An aperitivo (or aperitif) is similar to what us Australians refer to as ‘Happy Hour’. Traditionally, Australian Happy Hour is basically, a two-for-one deal on a selection of beers, wines and spirits at a set time each day.

The Italian ‘aperitivo’ or ‘apericena’ is generally regarded as pre-dinner drinks with FREE food from 6-8pm or 7-9pm. The 1920s tradition which began in Milan, has had Italians gathering after work in bars and on rooftop terraces for aperitivo hour ever since.

2. How Aperitivo Works?

At first it can seem a little confusing but after watching the locals you will pick up the aperitivo rules. Here’s a simple guide to follow to help you master the Italian aperitivo and get the best value for your dollar!

Whist it is common to order great Italian wines, Aperitivo is the perfect time to try classic Italian cocktails. Aperitivo cocktails tend to be bitter in taste, lower in alcohol and pair perfectly with savoury snacks and delicious Italian tapas.

Bars in major cities and some larger towns in Italy provide a mixed selection of foods to nibble on for FREE which is included in the drinks price. Locals and visitors can enjoy a range of cured meats, cheeses, olives, breads, vegetables, pizza and entrée size plates of pasta. Drinks are more expensive however visitors can fill their plates multiple times and virtually skip dinner!

It is wise to observe what the locals are doing as at some places the general rule is one drink, one plate. Some bars put on large buffets and don’t seem to worry who eats what.

Milan the city who created this tradition offers the best aperitivo experience in Italy. In Venice bars ‘bacari’ as they are known, an aperitivo is called ‘cicchetti.’

Every city has their own food specialties which is why trying at least one aperitivo per Italian city is a must. It is not hard to find the best bars, just look for the hordes of locals gathered in and outside the bar with a plate in one hand and drink in the other.

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The Birth of Cocktails | Famous Italian Made Liquors

The 1950s saw the arrival of the cocktail trend and Italy with its deep sense of style embraced the ritual of cocktail making served in exquisite glassware. Some Italian made liquors are the key ingredients to the classic cocktails enjoyed all over the world.

Turin in Italy was the birthplace of the aperiti Vermouth, a key ingredient used in cocktail making. Gaspare Camperi, the creator of the onymous drink Campari invented it in 1860 in Novara, near Milan. Campari is an alcoholic bitters, red in colour, that has been infused with fruits and herbs.  

Tasty Limoncello

The production of the liqueur ‘Limoncello’ is made from lemon zest, sugar and water. Its origin has been debated on for decades however Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, and island of Capri have all made claims to be the first producers of Limoncello. This highly alcoholic liqueur is sweet, aromatic and pleasing to the palate. It is a liqueur usually consumed after dinner as a digestive but is also enjoyed anytime.

3. What Cocktail to Order?

An Italian cocktail called ‘The Americano’ is made from Italian liquors and soda water: Campari (Milan), red vermouth (Turin) and soda water (Milan).

Aperol spritz is a low alcohol cocktail created by the Barbieri brothers in 1919. This bright-orange aromatic cocktail is both bitter and citrusy, therefore, an excellent accompaniment with antipasto. The popular Italian cocktail ‘Aperol spritz’ is made with Aperol, sparkling prosecco wine, oranges and soda water. Besides being delicious and refreshing on a summer’s day, the Aperol spritz is also an Instagram Star.

Florence’s famous Negroni is an Italian aperitif cocktail consisting of one-part vermouth rossa, one-part Campari, one-part gin and garnished with orange zest. For a sweeter option, order a Cinzano Martini Bianco or Martini Rosso (vermouth) with either lemonade or ginger ale. Visitors to Florence must take the Viator Florence appertivo walking tour.  

How Much Do Drinks Cost?

Drink prices vary but generally between 8€ and 10€. Super ritzy rooftop bars may charge from 10€ per drink. Guests are expected to pay for drinks as they are purchased.

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Aperitivo | Apericena Bars Are Popping Up Everywhere

Aperitivo hour is an ideal concept for tourists who want to relax after a big day of sightseeing with a few drinks and in lieu of dinner. Grazing from the buffet will satisfy most people’s hunger. Depending on where you are, the style and quality of aperitivo will differ between buffet-style or single plate of various goodies.

Note, not all bars are created equal, it’s important to research aperitivo hotspots beforehand. Websites like TripAdvisor provide tourists with guides to the best Italian aperitivo bars and where you can read first-hand customer reviews. My favourite apericena bar in Florence Italy is ‘Moyo’ in Santa Croce neighbourhood. The buffet selection is excellent with unlimited food with the purchase of one drink costing 10 euros. 

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For other travel stories like this and vacation tips, subscribe to Progressive Traveller and receive new stories directly in your inbox. Also, check out 5 Days on the Best Rome Rooftops, 3 Day Guide In Rome and 2 Romantic Days in Florence for great tips and recommendations. 

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