An Italian favorite…the aperitivo

 Afternoon  aperitivo  in Lecce.

Afternoon aperitivo in Lecce.

There are many typical Italian things that I love to do when I’m in Italy.  One of my favorites is stopping at a bar in the late afternoon or evening for an aperitivo.  It is one of the many ways for Italians to be social.  Meant to open the palate prior to a meal, the aperitivo is a pre-meal drink - with or without alcohol –that is usually accompanied by a variety of snacks.  These offerings can range anywhere from the classic chips and olives, to an entire spread of small bites, enough to make a hearty meal in and of themselves. 

The beverage portion of the aperitivo ranges from sodas and fruit juices to cocktails.  There are some very traditional Italian aperitivo cocktails that are worth trying next time you happen to find yourself in an Italian bar.  Based mainly on Campari or Aperol, the best examples are an Americano (soda, sweet vermouth and Campari), a Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth and Campari) and a Spritz.  My personal favorite is the Aperol Spritz – Aperol, soda and prosecco.  

So whether you've been out shopping all afternoon and just want to relax and chat with some locals before heading back to your hotel, or you want to make the aperitivo the main attraction of your evening, explore some different bars and restaurants next time you're in Italy and discover where your favorite aperitivo is served.