Aperitivo, when translated, literally means appetizer. But it’s a little more than just the basic starter to a main course. An Aperitivo is a pre-meal drink and the experience of Aperitivo is a cultural ritual. It is derived from the Latin “aperire” which means “to open”. The tradition is meant “to open” the stomach before dining.
In line with this tradition, for centuries Italians have shared merry moments over drinks and appetizers in the early evening hours between work and dinner. The purpose of this ritual is to stimulate the palate and appetite to prepare for the upcoming meal at dinner. Aperitivo plays a major role in Italian social life. It is a time or a moment when friends and family can come together, to enjoy one another’s company along with small bites and Aperitivo drinks. It is not to be confused with the renowned Anglo-American tradition of “Happy hour,” as Aperitivo places a great emphasis on spending time with loved ones and is less about a discounted drink price.
For Italians, the Aperitivo hour embodies the essence of Italian culture. Some have described it as “a la dolce vita,” lightness that veils a deep respect for the importance of human connection.”