Italian Aperitivo: Post-work Drinks With a Side of Class

Any good traveler knows that the best way to learn the culture of any city or region isn’t by reading marketing pamphlets or talking about it with a paid-off travel guide or concierge. No, the fastest and most fun way to meet people and learn how the locals live is to go to a bar, have a few drinks, and talk with people. Now, it’s true that the bar scene in unfamiliar territory can be intimidating and overwhelming to the average journeyer, but while you’re in Italy, the locals have concocted the perfect introduction to your warm Bologna nights: The Italian Aperitivo.

Many people will dismiss aperitivo as Italy’s “happy hour” when nothing is further from the truth. If you see a bar advertising “happy hour,” you will know immediately that it is full of tourists, and you should stay away. While the idea behind happy hour is to get drunk cheaply, the Italian Aperitivo is designed for you to drink with class and style. Rather than make cheap drinks even cheaper, the Italian Aperitivo concept is to showcase the premium capabilities of your bartenders with the nicest and most delicious drinks, paired perfectly to match a stream of ever-changing refreshments. Italian Aperitivo does not mean discounted drinks are often added to compensate for the food being served. But man, is it ever worth it. When visiting Bologna, I suggest checking out any cafes, restaurants, and bars listed below from Monday through Friday for multiple takes on the concept.

  1. Caffè Zamboni – via Zamboni, 6. 40126 Bologna
aperativo 1 cafe zambino 2

This restaurant in the historical zone of  Bologna is located in the heart of the city’s porticos, with views of ancient Italian architecture underneath Bologna’s two famous towers. Located in the university area,  it is full of students and resonates a young and vibrant vibe when the classrooms are empty.

aperativo 1 cafe zambino

2) La Gazzetta – via Zamboni 26, Bologna

This restaurant strays from Italian food to serve English and American cuisine in a rustic American style. The aperitivos typically begin at 7:00PM accompanied with live bands.

La Gazzeta

3) Cafè Letterario Carracci Fava – via Manzoni 2/F, Bologna, IT.

This is one of the more unique places to sip on drinks while chowing down on aperitivos because it is actually housed in a restored renaissance-style palace at the Palazzo Fava Museum. Sip on cocktails while snacking on mini sandwiches with a more refined and elegant crowd.

Aperitivo 3

4) Neaera Lounge Bar – Via G. Oberdan 37 a/b, 40126 Bologna

This stylish bar is named after the Latin phrase “new era,” which is appropriate considering how out of place it looks  next to the old Bologna architecture. The minimalistic decor and solid colors create a relaxed atmosphere while feasting on their buffet starting at 6 PM. Besides their famous specialty cocktails, you can also choose from over 100 types of wine.


5) Bar Lime – Via Zamboni 3, Bologna

This bar brings in the international student crowd thanks to some hefty discounts for Erasmus students. Come here for aperitivos if your Italian still needs some work. The prices are low, and the drink specials are some of the best in Bologna from 6 PM until 9 PM.


Depending on where you go, the Italian Aperitivo can consist of anything from marinated olives and freshly made crisps to light dinners with small pizzas, fruit salads, plates of pasta, cold cut dishes, sandwiches, whatever you can think of – it’s all included in the price of your drink. Many bars will even do you a favor, and institute “a consumazione,” which makes all the drinks the same price. Remember that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Lumiere the candlestick is running around singing “Be Our Guest” and showing Belle all the awesome food and drinks lying around the castle because he’s just so damn happy to have someone he can give food to? From 7:00-9:00 PM every night, every bar in Italy becomes a kind of like that.

Italian Aperitivo is a tradition based upon relaxation in a casual atmosphere, making it the perfect way to immerse yourself in local culture. It’s a celebration of getting through another day of work and being happy that you get to gather with good people and good food. Aperitivo is many things, it’s a cheaper alternative to dinner, it’s a cocktail hour with friends it’s simultaneously casual and elegant.  Italian Aperitivo is just Aperitivo, and like most things in Italy, it’s better off being experienced than told about.



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Jason Batansky

Jason Batansky, a 34-year-old entrepreneur/blogger, has built three successful online businesses, granting him the freedom to travel and work remotely across South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Currently residing in Miami Beach, Jason thrives on the challenges and rewards of his dynamic lifestyle.

1 thought on “Italian Aperitivo: Post-work Drinks With a Side of Class”

  1. I’ve tried the Cafe’ Letterario after reading your review and I loved it! Quite, but close to the main Drag in Bologna it was a nice respite from the noise of other street. Loved the selections!


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