Aperitivo Culture: An Italian Tradition

The Origins of the Aperitivo

It is difficult to trace the exact origins of the cherished Italian aperitivo ritual. Some say it was started Turin in 1786 by the inventor of the vermouth liquor, Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Others believe it began in Milan during the 1860s where Gaspare Campari, debuted his infusion of herbs and fruit in liquor, the famed Campari aperitif. The most recognised origins are from the 1920s in Milan, the heart of the best aperitivo.

“Aperitivo” derives from the Latin expression “to open” and the purpose of the ritual is to stimulate the palate and appetite to prepare for the upcoming meal. Aperitivo plays a significant role in Italian social life, and is a place for friends and family to come together, to enjoy one another’s company and have small bites and aperitif drinks.

What to Drink

Today you can find an aperitivo throughout Italy. The typical Italian aperitivo drinks differ around the country, however, all consist of moderately low alcohol spirits and bitter tasting flavours instead of sweet. Good picks are the Spritz, Americano, Negroni or even a refreshing glass of Prosecco.

Spritz Recipe

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1 Person


  • 90ml Prosecco
  • 60ml Aperol
  • 30ml Soda
  • Orange Wedge
  • Ice
  1. Mix Prosecco, Aperol & Soda in a large wine glass
  2. Fill the rest of the glass with ice
  3. Top off with a slice of Orange

What to Eat

Of course, along with drinks, there must always be small bites to indulge. While some rituals keep it light and simple, offering a variety of olives, nuts and crisps, other traditions feature more elaborate dishes such as freshly made focaccia, bruschetta topped with tomatoes, pickled vegetables and even cheese platters.

Focaccia Recipe

Preparation time: 1 Hour

Serves: 4 people


  • 200g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 150g Mozzarella
  • Bunch of Basil Leaves
  • Dried Oregano
  • 500g Flour
  • 200g Water
  • 15g Yeast
  • 40g Olive Oil
  • 25g Salt
  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, water, yeast, olive oil & salt
  2. When dough is pulled together, knead and smooth it. Cover in a cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Flatten dough onto the tray and sprinkle with tomatoes, mozzarella, oregano.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Garnish with Basil and Salt.

Next time you happen to be in the country of food and wine, find a local bar or even gather your friends at home to experience the typical aperitivo culture yourself.

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