Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Aperitivo – Italy’s take on happy hour

Happy Hour in much of the world means one thing – cheap drinks. In many parts of Italy however, it offers the community something more – the chance of a good meal. Known as ‘aperitivo’, when the time comes, the spirits flow more freely and the good times roll, not just for an hour, but between 6pm and 9pm in many parts of the country. 
Many bars actually raise the price of their drinks in this time, but along with a glass of your favorite tipple, you can also pick up a plate and help yourself to that day’s buffet of delights. Usually there’s a wide selection of food on offer, from substantial dishes like pasta, risotto and potatoes,
to smaller bite-sized snacks. 
The smaller portions are known as 'stuzzichini' or 'toothpicks', due to the fact many are neatly held together by one. They may be small, but the quality and range of food on offer makes it easy to turn them into a meal. From mini pizzas and bruschetta, to small salad servings and skewers of meat or seafood, the variety on offer makes aperitivo a simple and effective way to sample the cuisine of a region on the cheap. It’s also a great chance for visitors to rub shoulders with the locals and embrace the spirit of community and authentic Italian hospitality.