Happy hour is undoubtedly one of the most engaging food&wine experiences worth trying in Italy. Apparently it consists in having a drink with some savoury snacks while talking to someone.

In addition to being some sort of a meal, happy hour has recentry become an occasion for meeting with friends, drinking a cocktail and relaxing in fashionable locations.

Italy is the homeland of local festivals. Eating seasonal food and living a life in a more relaxed pace are important parts of the Italian culture and the concept of Aperitivo means more than tapas in Spain or Happy Hour in America. Despite the strongly-regional character of Italian culture, the pre-dinner drink is almost a ritual that can be found all over the Peninsula. You can choose to visit Italy without following the local habits and customs, but that’s not recommended.

If you’re not going to experience at least an Aperitivo during your stay, you will miss out on one of Italy’s best cultural expressions and perfect way to enjoy the end of the day.


ritual of happy hour


What is an Aperitivo for Italians?

The name of this pre-dinner moment comes from the Latin verb “aperire” which means “to open”. The idea is that a drink gets your appetite. Although happy hour was born in Milan not too long ago and it’s more typical in northern and central Italy, you can have an Aperitivo in all cities around Italy.

Today, the concept of Aperitivo is no longer limited to a drink served with some savoury snacks. It has become a real status symbol indicating that time of the day between 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, when Italians meet to relax sipping a glass of wine or a light cocktail.

For tourists, having a drink can be a great opportunity to blend in and experience the local culture, observe daily life, relax with a drink after a long day of sightseeing and keep hunger away while waiting for dinner.

Aperitivo is a moment of long and relaxing conversations with friends after a day of study or work. You only have to choose your drink, some food is already included in the price. A traditional aperitivo includes an alcoholic drink with some savoury snacks, cold cuts or small portions of typical cheese. You’ll prepare your taste buds to savour the upcoming dinner.


ritual of happy hour


Happy hour does not replace a dinner but introduces to it

Generally all cocktails served during a happy hour tend to be slightly alcoholic and bitter, so they perfectly match with savoury snacks. When starting to drink, light and small pieces of appetisers should be served, however most of the times there are many types of cheese and cold cuts, grilled or sautéed vegetables, slices of pizza and even small dishes of pasta. The idea is to snack, but young people and even tourists have started to see the happy hour as an alternative to dinner, filling their dishes several times over to satisfy their hunger.

That’s fine but it is not really the point of an Aperitivo! Before taking too much food to become a rude tourist, look at what other people are doing around you. Some bars offer enough food to feed a town and will not be concerned if you fill your dish several times over, but generally a drink goes with one dish of appetizers. If you want more food, then you will have to order another drink.

Things you can find on the menu of a perfect Aperitivo

Obviously prices vary from city to city and from bar to bar, but they are typically set at around 8 to 10 euro, no matter what drink you order. For that price, you can enjoy a couple of hours of relaxation, sipping you drink and tasting some appetizers. After ordering your drink, feel free to go to the buffet, take a small dish, a fork and a napkin and make your selection.

Some bars and restaurants offer a simple Aperitivo based on olives and nuts, other ones offer different types of fresh pasta, Italian cheese, grilled vegetables and sandwiches.

You don’t need to be in the north of Italy to enjoy a good Aperitivo! A bar in central Italy can even offer a 3 or 4 euro Aperitivo with a glass of fine wine and appetizers that have nothing less than those ones served in the popular cities of northern Italy.

Once you order, you are officially free to fill up your dish from the buffet and enjoy the location for your pre-dinner drink. Some people seek for places with the best food, somebody opt for the best cocktails and others prefer to find an extremely chic location.

Unfortunately, more tourist areas are bound to ‘tricks’ that may be difficult to identify for an outsider but there are some things you can do to avoid them as much as possible. First, look at the price. Any price over 10 euro is acceptable only for a super-classy bar set in a unique location or offering a very special cocktail list. If all these points sound tempting, sit down and enjoy a great cocktail with your friends.


ritual of happy hour


Enjoying an Aperitivo in Le Marche, what are you drinking?

Happy hour is the perfect time to try a classic Italian drink, such as the bitter Campari or the slightly less bitter Aperol. If you like bitter beers, Italy has a wide choice of interesting craft beers. If you prefer sweet drinks, opt for the classic Martini Rosso or Martini Bianco. If you are looking for something stronger yet still very Italian, you can try a Negroni, the most famous classic cocktail in Italy, a kind of dark Martini with gin, Campari and red vermouth.

Every region has its typical products which means an Aperitivo’s menu might vary depending on where you are in Italy. Exploring a location fully also means experiencing its flavours. And what place better than Le Marche to enjoy food and drinks in a remarkable medieval village or on an incredible terrace overlooking the sea? Unlike the classic happy hour, Le Marche version offers much more than a few chips, savoury pastries and industrial drinks.

Even in the most unpretentious bar, an Aperitivo in Le Marche certainly includes slices of fresh baked Crescia (kind of tasty flat bread) to be stuffed with a rich variety of local cold cuts, such as Ciauscolo or Lonzino. Definitely, there will be a selection of fresh and ripened cheese, such as Pecorino di Fossa or other varieties flavoured with herbs. Sweet, slightly aromatic and light-coloured honey to taste with cheese is not to be missed. What makes an Aperitivo in Le Marche truly unique aren’t elaborate snacks. Warm toasted bread served with genuine Cartoceto olive oil is enough. Olive oil in Le Marche has a typical medium-light fruity flavour, with the taste tending to be sweet but with some bitter and spicy tones.

When it comes to order your drink, the choice is truly wide and sophisticated. Actually, Le Marche area is famous for the production of Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, a red wine known and appreciated all over the world, with a typical taste of Le Marche hills. If you prefer a white wine instead, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi produced in the provinces of Macerata and Ancona is a must. It has a pale yellow colour, a delicate smell and a dry taste with a pleasant bitter finish. Other typical wines are the red Conero, the red Piceno, Bianchello, Bianco di Bonfumo, Bianco Piceno and Passerina.


ritual of happy hour


Versatility that makes happy hour a truly unique moment

An Italian Aperitivo does not mean formal settings, trendy locations and cocktails served in sophisticated glasses. You can also organise a happy hour right at home with your friends or family, maybe before going out for dinner.

Open a bottle of wine or beer, prepare some light snacks, sit at table and have fun. Even when serving drinks in paper cups and snacks on napkins, you’ll always enjoy the pleasure of some chilled wine at sunset or a cold beer before a world championship match. All you need to enjoy happy hour times in Italy is some good food, a drink and somewhere to sit. Aperitivo is an Italian feature and well describes the concept of ‘dolce vita’ and the attitude of Italians to connect with their family and friends. It is the perfect choice for a first date or a reunion with an old friend. Drink it slow, live this moment fully, but most of all enjoy chatting.

Do you want to enjoy the ritual of happy hour in Le Marche region? Have a look to the propreties that we have thought for your holiday. Discover them now!

Here’s a small preview of the Villas made available for you!