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The Italian Aperitivo: 4 Best Places in Rome

Aperitivo in Rome
About Rome


Do you ever think “ok, I want to go out, but not that much, I want to eat but not that much, I want to drink but not that much, and I have to spend my money… But possibly not that much”? Don’t feel too choosy. If the answer is yes, aperitivo is exactly what you are looking for.

This is the trend of the last decades in Italy and it is becoming a real tradition. It is actually borrowed from Anglo-Saxon countries, but now it has become something quite different from the happy hour where it comes from. We are in Italy; the food dimension cannot be neglected. Aperitivo is not just drinking nor just eating. It does not have to be expensive nor posh. The truth is that aperitivo is almost a philosophy for Italians and explaining it can be tough. The only thing that really matters is to share that moment with somebody. Social aggregation is its core value, being alone is forbidden.

Aperitivo in general is a sort of light meal made of just a few things, accompanied by a soft or long drink usually included in the price. It is important to underline that it is what comes before the meal itself (generally dinner, but lately lunch as well) and does not substitute it. So it should be brief in time and moderate in food and drink consumption... At least, this is the general idea. Of course anyone is free to handle it as they want. You may eat different things. Aperitivo goes from the cheapest and smallest concepts, with just a few chips and maybe carrots and olives, to the most creative ones, with slices of pizza, sandwiches or, if you feel hipster enough, even sushi.

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The most widespread trend of the moment is probably that of aperitivo cenato, which means dinner-served happy hour… More or less. This translation is absolutely inaccurate, apologies. It is just to give you a clue of what we are talking about. The idea is to maintain the essence of the basic aperitivo, but the aim is to replace the meal. So basically you eat the same kind of stuff, but (hopefully) in such a bigger amount, that in the end, you should feel full. Sipping some nice drink meanwhile is compulsory.

For the bravest ones, we suggest the aperitivo a buffet. It is an all-you-can-eat system, where you are given a drink of your choice and a plate to be refilled as much as you want and as many times as your stomach is able to bear. It all takes place next to a big table filled with the most different dishes, from pasta to lasagna, from pizza to pies, from salads to desserts. Prices are quite low, generally between 8 and 15 euros. So if you like to eat and save money at the same time, this is probably the best thing you will ever discover!

On the whole, prices are variable. It depends on the area (the most central ones are usually very expansive) and on the place you choose. In some of them, food and drinks are very sophisticated and even if you get just bread and ham with a glass of red wine, you end up paying 15 euros or more. In this case, do not get upset. Maybe you are eating deer ham and sipping wine from 1975. Everything depends on your preferences and on your wallet, of course. If you are not too pretentious, you may get beer and chips spending just five euros or even less. Rome is so big that every need can be fulfilled. Don’t worry. 

As we said before, there are no specific times to go and have a good aperitivo. The real one actually takes place right before dinner, usually around 7-7.30 p.m. However, it is common to meet for aperitivo at dinnertime, which includes a very undefined time lapse going from 8 to almost 10 p.m. The all-you-can-eat ones are usually between 6 p.m. and 9.30-10 p.m. and not every place provides this kind of service for lunch. Also remember that kitchens are usually closed between 3 and 5 p.m. and after 11 p.m. or midnight. So if you are just hungry and feel like searching, you can find something open at almost any time. Anyway, if you want to experience the real aperitivo, you should not be late.

As for the places, Rome has a café, a bar or a restaurant almost at every corner. So you literally just have to choose.  We list just some of the most characteristic areas as starting points. 


In the very centre of the city, a few steps from the Colosseum, Monti is full of historical cafes and young, trendy people. So just follow the crowd and you will have no problems to find the right place to eat and rest enjoying the beauty of the city.


When you think about Rome, with its ancient streets and brick walls, you probably do that by unconsciously displaying Trastevere. It is just the essence of the city. This also means lots of food and beverage, anywhere and almost at any time. Of course, happy hours are not an exception. With an atmosphere like that of Trastevere, it is something you definitely should not miss.


It has always been the area of fun. Hanging out, drinking and eating are therefore the keywords of this place, full of tradition and things to do. Prices are generally quite low, so it is the best place to have an aperitivo right before enjoying nightlife.


It is the core of Rome’s underground life. Wherever you turn to, you may spot a cocktail bar, a restaurant or a café. Everything is pretty cheap and happy hour is simply the leitmotiv of its nightlife.

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So, we have what, when and where. Who is you, of course. As about the why, do you really need a reason to go out and eat something good?

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