What to drink in Italy

Savouring a late-afternoon or evening beverage has its own name in Italy – aperitivo. Italians know that you’ve got to stop, sit back and relax into your surroundings when having a drink. Before, during or after aperitivo hour, be sure to try something authentic.


Coffee is a true artform in Italy and is highly regarded, so expect to see cafes (known as a bar in Italian) packed full of locals standing and sipping an espresso at any time of the day. While cappuccinos are on the menu, it’s customary to only drink milk-based coffees in the morning – after then, you might get a strange look from the barista. Be careful, too – ‘latte’ in Italian just means milk, so if you want a coffee instead of a glass of milk, order a ‘caffe latte’.


Would you care for a glass of vino? Wine in Italy flows almost more than water, but ordering a glass with all the different types of labels and varietals on offer may be daunting. Look out for DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) or DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) classifications, which act to protect the quality of Italian wine. DOCG is the highest classification, so you’ll know you’re tasting some top-notch stuff.


Named after the village of the same name, this (usually) sparkling style of wine is made from the glera grape and has a crisp and aromatic flavour, often with hints of summer fruits. It’s drunk before a meal and Italians use it in a wide range of homegrown cocktails like the Venetian sgroppino, where it's combined with vodka and lemon sorbet.


Is this a food or a drink? Well, it depends whether you use a straw or a spoon! Different flavours of granita are found throughout Italy – berries, lemon, coffee – and Sicily has the thickest type of icy goodness. Whatever variation you choose, it’s delicious.


This liqueur is the bigger, bolder sibling of Aperol – a crimson and herbaceous concoction commonly found on an aperitivo menu or in some strong alcohol-heavy cocktails. It can have up to 28% alcohol content, so a little goes a long way.


What’s a boozy cocktail that Campari features in? A Negroni, of course. This is a classic mixture of gin, Campari and vermouth, with a nice large ice block and a garnish of orange. It is said that this cocktail was invented in Florence by a patron who demanded the bartender replace the soda in an Americano with gin. Must’ve needed a stiff drink that night.


Heard of a Veneziano? Possibly not. Heard of an Aperol Spritz? Probably yes, and lucky for you they’re the same thing. There is no one recipe for this type of spritz – different liqueurs (such as Campari) can be used, and select garnishes depending on the type of alcohol. Either or, it’s the perfect companion for a warm summer’s evening.


Just as an aperitivo prepares your stomach for a meal, Italy has a selection of digestivos with herbal properties to aid in digestion. There’s Amari, Limoncello, Grappa, Sambuca and many more. 

Read more about drinking water in Italy

Read what to eat in Italy

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