The aperitivo is an Italian institution which has fueled many festive evenings since its inception in Turin approximately 200 years ago. Since then, the practice has spread throughout Italy and inspired several neighboring countries to follow suit in this most spiritually productive of cultural customs.
A simple translation would suggest that the aperitivo is an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink. However, the aperitivo is much more than that, and has evolved to encompass the early evening ritual of going out for a drink before a meal, accompanied by light snacks that are provided along with your drink.
Some of the most popular cocktails for aperitivo include the Negroni, the Spritz, the Campari, and the Rossini. If you are looking for wine, then a glass of prosecco or a crisp white wine should do the trick. The idea is to stimulate the appetite with a drink that is not too heavy or too high in alcohol content.
As is the case with most Italian dining institutions, the food is generally high quality, and can range from simple breads to fresh sausage to an entire cheese plate with honey. For the light eaters and students among us, the snacks provided at aperitivo can very well constitute dinner, thereby increasing the available budget for additional wine. Alternatively, you could move on to a full-service restaurant for the rest of the evening.