I'm a Food Writer Who Lived in Rome, and Here's What You Need for the Perfect Aperitivo at Home

From snacks to spritz glasses.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Aperol Spritz
Photo: Brent Hofacker / Getty Images

Aperitivo, the Italian pre-meal drink with appetizers, can be thought of as a heavy happy hour. But as is so often the case with food and drink, Italians have made it an artform.

Aperitivo comes from the Latin aperire, which means to open. You're opening your stomach before dining. A spritz, or something including a bitter alcohol, is traditional and helps with the stomach opening. But today in Italy, an aperitivo menu usually consists of a bit more: Aperol or Campari spritz, a negroni, Peroni or another beer, and a glass or two of red and white wine. With your cocktail, you'll get a spread of something like olives, crackers, cheeses, salumi, maybe some mini pizzas, maybe some arancini –– it really depends on the place. Some aperitivo spots spread out full buffets that are more like a meal, while others keep it simple with chips and olives.

I lived in Rome for a few years, where my coworkers and I became experts and which aperitivo bars had the best snacks, which ones could substitute a meal, and which had the best views. Now that I'm back in Chicago, I enjoy aperitivo at home (preferably outside). It's not only a great way to wind down from the day, but also to welcome guests since it's easier than hosting a dinner, but classier than inviting someone for only drinks. Here's what you need for aperitivo at home, just in time for summer.

Spritz glasses are essential, as is having plenty of ice on hand. Stock your liquor cabinet with Aperol or Campari, prosecco, club soda, and follow this Aperol spritz recipe for a perfect batch. If you don't go through all the prosecco, you can preserve it for a few days with a Champagne stopper. Another part of the fun of aperitivo is the Italian dishware. Channel summer on the Amalfi Coast vibes with this Sorrento lemon serving platter, some patterned plates, and lemon paper napkins.

Now for the food. You could whip up some focaccia or lay out a charcuterie board, make some pizzette or arancini. Or, you could simply purchase a few of my favorite Italian snacks: fennel taralli, Piu Gusto chips (all flavors are delicious!), and a bowl of olives.

For more aperitivo inspiration, or for something to read while you sip, check out writer and Italian food expert Sophie Minchilli's book The Sweetness of Doing Nothing. It will make you want to buy a ticket to Italy ASAP, or to find more ways to bring the art of doing nothing the Italian way into your life at home. Embracing aperitivo is a good start.

Lav Gin and Tonic Glasses, Set of 6

LAV Gin and Tonic Glass Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Wogii Ice Cube Tray with Container and Scoop

Ice Cube Trays
Courtesy of Amazon

Giotti Ceramiche Italian Ceramic Dinnerware Plate

Italian Ceramic dinnerware plate Lemons
Courtesy of Amazon

Cuisinart Champagne Stopper

Champagne Stopper
Courtesy of Amazon

Aquiver 6-Inch Ceramic Dessert Plates, Set of 6

Ceramic Dessert Plates
Courtesy of Amazon

Gersoniel Lemon Napkins, 120-Count

120 Pieces Lemon Napkins 3 Ply Disposable
Courtesy of Amazon

Aperol

Aperol
Courtesy of Drizly

Campari

Campari
Courtesy of Drizly

Mitica Fennel Taralli

Mitica, Taralli Fennel
Courtesy of Amazon

San Carlo Più Gusto Potato Chips

San Carlo Più Gusto Passione Mediterranea Ready Salted Crsps Potato Chips
Courtesy of Amazon

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing Book
Courtesy of Amazon
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles