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13 Nov, 2019   |   

Why You Need To Experience Aperitivo In Italy

Gap year students in Up with People travel Italy
The cast of Up with People is in their last week of their Italian tour!

The cast is finishing up their final week in Italy!

When people think of Italy, food is often one of the first things that comes to mind. Italians have a very special gift when it comes to cooking, and some of the most delicious dishes were invented in Italy. You might have heard the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” And it’s true! The Roman Empire facilitated trades in exotic foods, spices, and herbs. This, along with the true pride they take in the experiences of cooking and dining, could be the reason why Italian cuisine is internationally known and loved.

What is Aperitivo?

While we may have happy hour here in the United States where the Up with People World Headquarters is located, it’s no comparison to aperitivo in Italy.

Aperitivo is known as a beverage before your meal to build your appetite. It will usually happen between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at different bars and restaurants in various cities throughout Italy, but more specifically in Rome, Naples, and Florence.

How did aperitivo start?

Thanks to distiller and inventor Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the concept of aperitivo was created in 1786 when he distilled one of the first types of vermouth, a red or white wine flavoured with herbs. According to Carpano, the combination of herbs and spices within his wine stimulates a person’s appetite. Fun Fact, ‘aperitivi’ comes from the Latin word for “opener,” meaning to open a meal with an aperitivo!

What types of food will you eat during aperitivo?

The biggest difference you’ll find between a typical American happy hour and an Italian aperitivo is the selection of food. In Italy, instead of having just one meal or maybe ordering one or two different appetizers, you will receive an entire buffet.

Different bars have different setups and systems depending on where you go. Large tables will typically be placed around the establishment piled sky-high with delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts that will make your mouth water.

food in italy

In many places that host aperitivo, you’re unlikely to see the same food twice. The types of food will rotate every so often or as plates begin to run low. Following aperitivo, a typical Italian dinner will happen anywhere between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. which can seem late to those who are not familiar with the culture. While aperitivo is not meant to replace your dinner, this might be the case given the amount of food you’ll experience.

The types of food will vary throughout the night and depending on where you go. Some things you may find include:

  • Frittata
  • Risotto
  • Charcuterie stuffed sandwiches
  • Miniature pizzas
  • Pastries
  • Various cheeses and breads
  • Calamari
  • Prosciutto finger sandwiches with homemade aioli
  • Salami puffs

As you can see, the list can go on forever. If you’re traveling abroad in Italy, make sure to find out where the next aperitivo will be. We promise your stomach will be very happy after what is meant to be an appetizer, but turns out to be a full-blown feast.

To see more of the experiences the cast of Up with People is having on their tour throughout Italy, make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Want to travel abroad for a semester in Italy or know someone who would be a great fit for the program? Sign up for our email list!


“Pierogis and pizza and bread, Festa Humana,
Everyone’s going to be fed, Festa Humana.
Voices of children at play, Festa Humana,
Piñatas and papier-mâché, Festa Humana.”

Festa Humana © Up with People

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