While walking through the streets of Rome, you may see a variety of bars offering what is commonly referred to as aperitivo. But what does it mean? In this article we hope to share this distinctly Italian practice with you, as well as give you some of our recommendations for the best aperitivo in the city.
What is Aperitivo?
The word “aperitivo” comes from the latin word “aperire” – meaning to open and stimulate the appetite. Although the practice can be traced to the northern regions of Italy, today aperitivo is served across the country and is seen as being an important part of socialization in Italian culture.
Although aperitivo may be different depending on where you go, it can be simplified in one fundamental concept: a drink paired with small snacks that is meant to open the appetite and kickstart digestion before dinner. Some locations keep it simple with small snacks such as olives, mixed nuts and potato chips; while others offer a full buffet of pastas, sandwiches, cheeses, etc. It is also becoming more common to find aperitivo featuring international dishes like chicken curry and cous cous. You will usually find aperitivo being served between 18:00 – 21:00 and range from 5€ to 15€.
Traditionally, an aperitivo drink is made with a bitter liquor such as Campari or Aperol.
Aperitivo in Rome: The Spritz
Although there are a few drinks that are traditionally served with aperitivo, the Spritz is probably the most popular in Rome. The Spritz can be traced back to the Venice region in the 1800s when soldiers of the Austrian Empire asked for their wine to have a small amount of water sprayed into it to make it lights. In the 1900s carbonated water was substituted for still. Later, bitter liquors (such as Campari or Aperol) were added.
5 Aperitivo Spots in Rome
1. Gusto al 28
Gusto al 28 is wine bar located near Piazza Popolo, just off of Via del Corso. In addition to their industrial-chic decor, they offer an extensive wine list and cocktail menu. Their aperitivo is excellent – including pastas, pizza, and a variety of fried snacks.
Where: Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 28 (Via del Corso)
Price: around 10€
2. Salotto 42
Nestled in the perfect central location, Salotto 42 offers artisinal cocktails and a generous aperitivo buffet. You can also sip you cocktail while enjoying the view of Hadrian’s temple. Salotto 42 is also located close to the Pantheon, making it the perfect stop after our walking tour of Rome at night.
Where: Piazza di Petra, 42
Price: around 10€
This ultra-modern cocktail bar is one of the the best aperitivo bars in the city. Despite its, well, interesting decor Fluid is known for its extensive selection of liquors and cocktails. In addition to their drink selection, Fluid has a huge aperitivo that features both Italian and international options. It is also located just down the street from Piazza Navona – perfect for a post Ancient Tour aperitivo!
Where: Via del Governo Vecchio, 46
Price: 10€ – 15€
4. Freni e Frizione
This trendy bar is located in one of Rome’s trendiest neighbourhoods – Trastevere. With expert mixologists manning the bar, its no surprise that Freni e Frizione is one of the best places to go for a cocktail. They also feature an aperitivo bar in the evenings with pizza, pastas, and salads as well as an outdoor terrace between Piazza Trilussa and the Tiber. Check out aperitivo at Frene and Frizione after our walking tour of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto. If you want to learn more about Trastevere, head over to our previous post where we explore the area and give you our highlights.
Where: Via del Politeama, 4/6
Price: around 10€
Although their cocktails may be a bit pricey, you don’t want to miss out on Panella’s aperitivo. They offer a wide selection of gourmet breads, fried foods, bruschette, crostini, and more. Located in the trendy Monti district, Panella is also the perfect place to go for a stroll and a bite to eat near the Colosseum.
Where: Via Merulana, 54
Where is your favourite place to go for aperitivo in Rome? Let us know in the comments!