The aperitivo ritual in Italy is a big deal. Each city declines the happy hour its own way. Let's find out how it's done in Milan, Rome and Naples.
At sunset or under the sun, during the weekend or after work. The aperitivo is a ritual that Italians practically never give up.
After all, Italians invented the aperitivo. In the 18th century, from Turin, it spread throughout Italy, developing local specificities that characterize it from North to South.
In this article, we will travel through the history of this ritual that the whole world envies us and immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of 3 happy hour capitals: Milan, Rome and Naples.
To accompany us we will have a special guide: Lurisia, Italian beverage excellence. Get ready: at each stop we will taste a signature Lurisia cocktail, surprisingly paired with the soul of the three cities. Shall we go?
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Origins and history of aperitivo
To learn more about the origins of aperitivo we have to go back more than two thousand years. It seems that already the ancient Romans had the habit of consuming alcoholic beverages before the actual banquets. The term aperitif, in fact, comes from the Latin aperitivus, meaning "something that opens".
The modern aperitif, however, was born in Turin. Here, in 1786 the owner of a small liquor store invented a flavored wine: Vermouth.
This new drink won over King Vittorio Emanuele II, who soon got into the habit of enjoying a small glass before sitting down to eat.
Before long, the court dictated fashion: all cafes in Turin began serving Vermouth accompanied by small samples of Piedmontese products.
Soon, beverage producers in all other Italian cities wanted to emulate Turin, inventing their own specialty to be enjoyed before meals. Success was immediate. Aperitivo became a collective ritual spreading throughout Italy.
Today, Italians "fanno aperitivo" (or "have an aperitivo") to allow time for themselves, with friends or for a romantic date.
Aperitivo is a moment with a strong social value in which the sharing of life moments, emotions, gossip and laughter helps to create or strengthen already existing bonds between people.
Now that you know more about the value and importance of the aperitivo ritual, we can begin our journey. Let's start from the very city that made it an icon: Milan.
Aperitivo in Milan
Milan is the first Italian capital of aperitivo. When the sun goes down, the city of business and fashion shows itself in its most enjoyable guise. Here aperitivo often means going to the bar from the office without stepping by home, often without even ending up at a restaurant. Indeed, in the 1990s, Milan invented apericena (aperitivo+ dinner), an aperitif with a great buffet.
If you are looking for a place to have an aperitivo in Milan, you are spoiled for choice: from the classic aperitivo in the city center, on the Navigli or in Brera, to Porta Romana or Zona Paolo Sarpi, the proposals for happy hour vary from the traditional ones to the gourmet choices, in secluded locations in inner courtyards and dehors, where you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in the midst of greenery, to the top of panoramic terraces on the Milan skyline; in historic wine bars, in old industrial structures or crypts of ancient churches to the hidden addresses of secret salons or speakeasy-style 'cocktail societies'!
Each neighborhood has its own characteristics. Brera is home to the famous Pinacoteca and the Academy of Fine Arts and has always been the artists' quarter, a bohemian area among the liveliest especially during the Aperitivo hour; Corso Sempione and Zona Garibaldi and Via della Moscova are the glamorous areas frequented by professionals, where worldliness is also found in the type of venues and Aperitivo proposals; Paolo Sarpi area, also known as Chinatown, in recent years has become one of the most frequented places by the Milanese people who want to enjoy oriental cuisine in street food version or in a gourmet key even during Aperitivo.
Each Milanese neighborhood has its own mood, but the most characteristic place in Milan always remains Navigli district, where since the 1980s the movida that symbolizes the worldliness of the Milanese and their way of being takes place.
Want some Lurisia-branded advice on what to drink during an aperitivo in Milan? We suggest a drink as glamorous and sophisticated as this incredible city: the Aperitivo Mistico made by bartender Federico Tomasselli, based on Lurisia Aperitivo Analcolico con Genziana delle Alpi, Italian white Vermouth, lemon juice and grapefruit syrup. Serve in a highball glass with cubed ice and garnished with a grapefruit peel. Enjoy!
Aperitivo in Rome
Rome has borrowed the glamorous appointment of the aperitivo from Milan and transformed the happy hour into something more casual and easily enjoyable.
For the choice of places to have an aperitivo in Rome, too, there is a lot of choice: from those in the new creative district of Pigneto to those in the characteristic alleys of Trastevere or in the most sought-after venues in Parioli and downtown or on the terraces or rooftops of the most luxurious hotels with "Great Beauty" style views.
Each neighborhood has its own characteristics and each venue reflects them by offering different experiences: the Pigneto, like Testaccio and Ostiense, were born as working-class neighborhoods that have become very active artistically and culturally since a few are becoming very active and are among the most loved and frequented for aperitifs.
Even Trastevere, originally inhabited by the urban proletariat, today is one of the trendiest areas to have an aperitif, always frequented by young people and tourists who crowd the many bars in the historic alleys and characteristic little squares.
North Rome, with the Parioli district and Ponte Milvio, is the residential and exclusive area with cocktail bars and trendy clubs frequented by 'well-to-do' Rome. Finally, the historic center is the heart of Roman evenings: this is where the 'imported' Milanese happy hour ritual was born and is transformed with all-Roman characters.
For your aperitif in Rome, we bring you another fascinating cocktail designed for Lurisia. It is called Aperitivo Mantrico, and it is perfect for celebrating the majesty of the eternal city. How to prepare it? With some Lurisia Aperitivo Analcolico con Assenzio Maggiore Piemontese , some Corralejo Reposado Tequila, and some Chili Cordial. It is served in a highball glass with cubed ice and garnished with a grapefruit slice.
Aperitivo in Naples
Finally, we arrive in Naples, a Mediterranean city and in itself a lover of rituals and conviviality. Here the Milanese tradition has merged with the local gastronomic tradition, be it veracious or in a gourmet version.
In Naples, every neighborhood has its own reference addresses for happy hour lovers: from Chiaia to Vomero, from Posillipo to the Historic Center to nearby Pozzuoli, you can choose between places with a quiet atmosphere where you can enjoy an aperitivo in total relaxation or elegant settings enlivened by exhibitions, cultural events and live music concerts, or small informal or trendy venues, among the alleys of the historic center or with breathtaking views of the city, with an indoor garden or with a view of the sea at sunset.
Wherever you decide to have an aperitif, in Naples you are always immersed in history and culture, as in Piazza Bellini or Piazza del Gesù, among the most popular areas of the historic center. Here there are many bars populated by tourists and young Italians and foreigners who all day long attend the nearby University, the Conservatory or the Academy.
Chiaia is frequented by the young and not-so-young of 'well-to-do' Naples and is enlivened by chic clubs and lounge bars in which to meet for aperitifs and stay even longer.
Like Chiaia, the hill of Vomero is also frequented by the most fashionable Neapolitans, who at aperitif time frequent the many refined clubs with panoramic views of the city.
Not to mention Posillipo, also on the hill, an elegant neighborhood where the most exclusive venues for a refined aperitivo can be found.
And again, the Lungomare of Mergellina offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Naples with clubs are always packed.
The Neapolitan happy hour continues all the way to Pozzuoli, a small town bordering the city, which is popular especially in summer because of the splendid views of the Gulf and the islands of Ischia and Capri.
A cocktail suitable for summer evenings to be enjoyed during an aperitif in Naples is definitely the Moscow Mule.
Finally, we leave you with one last cocktail to enjoy during an aperitif in Naples, always recommended by Lurisia. It is called Sapore Mediterraneo and it is perfectly in line with the sunny soul of the city. It is made with Lurisia Aperitivo Analcolico con Genziana delle Alpi, lemon juice and rosemary sprig. It is served in a tall tumbler with ice. Happy aperitivo!