There’s absolutely one thing you do not have to miss when in Italy: aperitivo.
What is aperitivo? Well, it’s la bella vita at its best. Let me give you an example. It’s Friday night, you leave the office a bit tired but do not want to go home. You have been working all day and just need some relaxing time: it’s time for an aperitivo, then!
Go to a bar, order a Spritz or a glass of wine, sit down, relax and enjoy some complimentary food. As many things in life, aperitivo is a very simple yet awesome thing. Good drinks, good snacks, a chat with your friends, time on your side.
No worries, no problems, just the perfect way to start the weekend.
I love this habit so much that it’s probably the only Italian thing I miss when I am abroad. Therefore, I decided to celebrate my love for aperitivo by making it the subject of a new post about Italian vocabulary. Last time, we focused on Christmas vocabulary, today we’ll learn all the useful words and phrases you may need to enjoy a perfect aperitivo the Italian way.
Let’s focus on the Italian vocabulary regarding aperitivo, then.
Aperitivo is a very nice abitudine italiana (Italian habit): it means andare al bar (to go to a bar) a bere qualcosa (to drink something), usually between 6 pm and 8 pm. The most common drinks to be had are Spritz, a cocktail made with prosecco wine, Aperol, and soda water, Prosecco, sparkling white wine, or simply un bicchiere di vino bianco o rosso (a glass of white wine or red wine). If you are a party of friends, you can then go for una bottiglia di vino bianco or una bottiglia di prosecco and then share.
You can also have una birra (a beer), also called una birretta (some kind of affectionate diminutive, literally meaning a little beer). But, if you do not like drinking alcohol, you can always ask un Crodino or un Sanbitter, two bittersweet soft drinks. When you get your drinks then, you can make a toast by saying “Cin cin!” o simply “Cin!” (cheers!).
But aperitivo does not mean drinks only. What makes it special is that you get complimentary food with your beverages. The traditional aperitivo includes patatine (chips), olive (olives), noccioline (peanuts), pistacchi (pistachios), and salatini (salted biscuits and crackers). However, it is getting more and more common to get other types of food like pizza or focaccia (thin salty bread), torte salate (vegetable pies), bruschette (toasted bread usually with tomato sauce on top), salumi (cold cuts), or formaggio (cheese).
Something which was quite popular a few years ago – and actually still is, somewhere – is apericena, which mixes aperitivo and cena (dinner), usually offering a wider variety of food with your drinks. At apericena, you get warm dishes as well, like pasta, riso (rice), or fritti (fried food), or sometimes even trendier food like sushi.
In certain bars, all food is placed sul bancone (on the counter) and you have to servirti da solo (help yourself). In such cases, bars are always quite crowded and people stanno in piedi (to be standing) by the counter. In some other bars, aperitivo is served al tavolo (at the table) and il cameriere (the waiter) will bring you food and drinks with a vassoio (tray).
And now some phrases to be used when having an aperitivo.
When you need to order, you can say “io prendo uno Spritz” (I’ll have a Spritz) or “Per me, uno Spritz” (For me, a Spritz). If the waiter doesn’t bring you food, you can ask “C’è anche qualcosa da mangiare?” (Is there something to eat as well?) or “Ci porta due patatine?” (Can we have some chips?).
If you are enjoying yourself and want to drink more, you can ask “Me ne porta un altro?” (Could you bring me another one?” or “Posso averne un altro?” (Could I have another one?). If the whole party of friends wants to have another drink, then say “Facciamo ancora un giro” (We’ll have another round) or “Ci fa ancora un giro?” (Can you make us another round?).
When you’re done and need to pay, you can wait at the table and ask “Ci porta il conto, per favore?” (Can you give us the bill, please?) or “Dove devo pagare?” (Where do I need to pay?) if you are not sure whether you need to wait for the bill or pay at the counter. If you go straight to the counter, you can say “Quanto le devo?” (How much do I owe you?) or “Devo pagare” (I have to pay).
I hope this post was useful! If you need a specific topic to be covered in a future post, let me know in the comments below. Ciao!
I have prepared a pdf file with all the words and phrases we learned in this post. If you are subscribed to my newsletter, you will get it in your inbox. If you aren’t, you can get the pdf file by subscribing here.
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