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Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 09:56 pm

Drinks of Italy and Popular Drinks in Italy Guide – You are in the right place!

Italy, famed for its vibrant culture, historic landmarks, and impeccable fashion sense, holds another trump card – its beverages. From the strong kick of a morning espresso to the indulgent sweetness of Limoncello, Italy’s drink repertoire is as diverse as it is delicious.

Whether you’re a traveler hoping to immerse yourself in Italy’s rich cultural tapestry or a culinary enthusiast ready to embark on a beverage journey, this guide to popular drinks in Italy will be your passport to the nation’s liquid delights.

Related Travel Guides on Italy

The Coffee Culture in Italy – Drinks in Italy

In Italy, coffee is more than just a beverage—it’s a social ritual and a way of life. Italians have an unmatched reverence for coffee and have deeply rooted traditions around its consumption. From quick and energetic espresso shots sipped standing at the counter, to relaxed cappuccinos enjoyed at a sidewalk cafe, coffee has a cherished place in the Italian daily rhythm. Furthermore, Italian baristas are skilled artisans, perfecting their craft over years of practice.


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Espresso is the backbone of Italian coffee culture. This strong, dark coffee is made by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans. The result is a concentrated shot of coffee topped with a layer of creamy foam known as ‘crema’. An espresso is often consumed quickly, standing at a bar, and serves as a quick pick-me-up at any time of the day.


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Named after the Capuchin friars due to its color resemblance to their habits, a cappuccino is a popular breakfast drink in Italy. It’s composed of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, offering a lighter and creamier alternative to straight espresso. According to Italian customs, a cappuccino is generally consumed before 11 am, as milk-based coffees are typically not drunk after a meal.

Caffè Macchiato

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A caffè macchiato, meaning “stained” or “spotted” coffee, is simply an espresso with a small splash of frothy milk. This drink strikes a balance between the intensity of a straight espresso and the creaminess of a cappuccino. It’s perfect for those who find an espresso too strong but a cappuccino too milky.

Caffè Corretto

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Caffe Corretto, Image via Takumi Yoshida

Caffè corretto translates to “corrected coffee” and refers to an espresso shot “corrected” with a splash of liquor, usually grappa, Sambuca, or brandy. It is often enjoyed as a digestivo, or after-dinner drink, to aid digestion.

Italian Alcoholic Drinks – Drinks in Italy

In addition to its coffee culture, Italy is renowned for its alcoholic beverages, from world-class wines to potent liqueurs and stylish cocktails.

Wine: An Integral Part of Italian Culture

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Wine in Italy is deeply woven into the country’s culture and daily life. Italy is one of the world’s largest wine producers, and each region boasts its unique varieties and styles, from the bold Barolo of Piedmont to the light and crisp Pinot Grigio of Veneto. A meal without wine is nearly unthinkable in Italy.

Prosecco: Italy’s Famous Sparkling Wine

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to French Champagne. Produced mainly in the Veneto region, Prosecco is a sparkling wine known for its light, fruity, and refreshing profile. It’s the main ingredient in popular cocktails like Bellini and Spritz and is also enjoyed on its own, often as an aperitivo.

Limoncello: The Sweet Lemon Liqueur

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Limoncello is a sweet and tangy lemon liqueur native to Southern Italy, particularly the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. Made from lemon zest steeped in neutral grain alcohol, it’s typically served chilled as a digestivo. The result is an intensely lemony, slightly creamy liqueur that’s both refreshing and relaxing.

Campari: The Bitter Aperitif

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Campari, with its distinctive red color and bitter flavor, is a staple in Italian aperitivo culture. Made from a blend of herbs and fruit, it’s enjoyed straight on the rocks, with soda water, or in cocktails like the Negroni or Americano. Its bitterness stimulates the appetite, making it an ideal pre-dinner drink.

Negroni: The Iconic Italian Cocktail

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

The Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail made of equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It was supposedly created when Count Camillo Negroni requested his favorite cocktail, the Americano, to be strengthened with gin instead of soda water. The result is a robust, slightly bitter cocktail that’s as sophisticated as it is flavorful.

Grappa: The Potent Digestivo

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Grappa is a potent distilled spirit made from the leftover skins, seeds, and stalks from the winemaking process (collectively known as “pomace”). Typically consumed as a digestivo, it’s a clear, high-alcohol spirit that can be somewhat harsh to the unaccustomed palate. Nevertheless, grappa has a significant following and is appreciated for its ability to warm the insides and aid digestion.

Non-Alcoholic Italian Drinks – Drinks in Italy

Italy is also home to a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, enjoyed by both children and adults alike.

Acqua Frizzante and Acqua Naturale: The Italian Waters

When dining in Italy, you’ll be asked if you prefer “acqua frizzante” or “acqua naturale”. The former refers to carbonated or sparkling water, while the latter indicates still or non-sparkling water. Both are served chilled and are the perfect accompaniment to any Italian meal.

Aranciata: The Italian Orangeade

Aranciata, or orangeade, is a popular Italian soft drink. Made with fresh orange juice and carbonated water, it’s sweet, tangy, and refreshing. It’s often enjoyed on hot summer days and is a favorite among kids.

Chinotto: The Bitter-Sweet Beverage

Chinotto is a bittersweet beverage made from the juice of the myrtle-leaved orange tree, also known as the Chinotto tree. The drink is dark in color and has a unique flavor that is both bitter and sweet. It’s a popular choice for those who want a break from the usual sweet soft drinks.

A Journey Through Italy’s Regional Drinks – Drinks in Italy

Each region of Italy boasts unique drinks that reflect its local produce and traditions.

Sicily: Marsala Wine

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Marsala is a fortified wine produced in the region around the town of Marsala in Sicily. It can be sweet or dry and is often used in cooking to create rich, caramelized sauces. On its own, it’s typically served as an aperitif or a digestivo.

Sardinia: Mirto

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

Mirto is a liqueur unique to the island of Sardinia. Made from the berries of the myrtle plant, it comes in two varieties: Mirto Rosso (red) made from the berries, and Mirto Bianco (white) made from the leaves. It’s sweet, herbal, and typically enjoyed as a digestivo.

Veneto: Spritz – Popular Drinks in Italy

Drinks of Italy: Popular Drinks in Italy to Try

The Spritz is a popular cocktail in Veneto and the surrounding regions. It’s made with prosecco, a splash of a bitter liqueur like Aperol or Campari, and topped with sparkling water. The Spritz is typically served over ice with a slice of orange and is a favorite aperitivo drink.

Tuscany: Vin Santo

Vin Santo, or “holy wine,” is a sweet dessert wine produced in Tuscany. It’s made from grapes that have been dried on straw mats to concentrate their sweetness. Vin Santo is often served with cantucci (Tuscan almond biscuits), which are dipped in the wine for a delicious finish to a meal.

The diversity of drinks in Italy reflects the rich cultural and culinary traditions of the country. Whether you’re sipping an espresso at a busy Rome café, enjoying a glass of Prosecco at a Venetian bar, or trying a local drink in a rural village, you’re participating in a deeply-rooted Italian tradition that is as delicious as it is diverse.

Italian Drinks Recipes (Popular Drinks in Italy)



  • 1/2 ounce (14 grams) finely ground espresso beans
  • Demitasse cup


  1. Fill your espresso machine’s reservoir with water.
  2. Place the espresso beans in the machine’s portafilter and tamp down.
  3. Lock the portafilter into the machine and place the demitasse cup underneath.
  4. Turn on the machine and let the espresso pour into the cup until it’s about 3/4 full.



  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce vermouth rosso
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Ice cubes
  • Slice of orange, for garnish


  1. In a cocktail glass filled with ice, combine the gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari.
  2. Stir well to mix.
  3. Garnish with a slice of orange.



  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 cups of sparkling water
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. In a large jug, combine the orange juice and sparkling water.
  2. Add sugar according to your preferred sweetness level and stir until fully dissolved.
  3. Serve chilled.


While Grappa is traditionally distilled using leftover wine-making ingredients in a distillery, you can make a homemade version that’s similar in taste.


  • 1 bottle of good quality white wine
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of grape skins and seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of yeast


  1. In a large glass container, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Cover the container with a cloth and let it sit in a dark, cool place for about two weeks.
  3. After two weeks, strain the liquid into a distiller.
  4. Distill the liquid according to the distiller’s instructions.
  5. The liquid collected from the distillation process is your homemade Grappa. Store it in a clean glass bottle and serve as desired.

The diversity of drinks in Italy reflects the rich cultural and culinary traditions of the country. Whether you’re sipping an espresso at a busy Rome café, enjoying a glass of Prosecco at a Venetian bar, or trying a local drink in a rural village, you’re participating in a deeply-rooted Italian tradition that is as delicious as it is diverse.

Italian Drinking Customs

Drinking in Italy goes far beyond the mere act of consuming a beverage. It’s a cultural ritual that tells you volumes about the country’s lifestyle and social customs. Italians are serious about their drinks, and each one has its own specific rules and etiquette.

For instance, coffee is usually consumed quickly while standing at the bar, especially during the morning rush. It’s viewed as a quick pause rather than a long, leisurely break. A cappuccino is a morning affair, typically not ordered after 11 am. Aperitivo, the pre-dinner drink meant to stimulate the appetite, usually served with a light snack, is a daily event for many Italians.

In terms of alcoholic beverages, Italians rarely drink without food. Even in wine tastings, you’re likely to be offered some cheese or bread to accompany the wine. The idea is to sip and savour, rather than to drink quickly.

Pairing Italian Drinks with Food

The pairing of food and drink is an art in itself, especially in Italy where every meal is considered a sensory experience. The country’s varied regional cuisine means there are a plethora of pairing options.

For instance, a robust Chianti pairs beautifully with a hearty Tuscan stew, while a sparkling Prosecco complements the delicate flavours of seafood and shellfish. Limoncello is a perfect digestif, often enjoyed after a large meal, while a Negroni might be your go-to drink for an aperitivo, possibly paired with some olives and cheese.

The Evolution of Italian Drinks

The history and evolution of Italian drinks mirror the rich cultural heritage of the country. Many Italian drinks that we enjoy today have evolved over centuries and are steeped in tradition.

For instance, wine production in Italy dates back over 4,000 years, and Italian wines have evolved significantly over the centuries due to changes in farming techniques, introduction of new grape varieties, and influences from other cultures. Similarly, the espresso has seen quite an evolution since its invention, with variations like cappuccino, macchiato, and others becoming popular over time.

Home Preparation Tips for Italian Drinks

While nothing beats the experience of sipping an espresso at a bustling Roman café or savouring a glass of Chianti in a Tuscan vineyard, you can recreate some of these Italian beverages at home.

To prepare the perfect espresso at home, invest in good quality coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. For cocktails like Negroni, the key is in the proportions – one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, served over ice and garnished with a slice of orange.

The Role of Drinks in Italian Celebrations

Different beverages are associated with various Italian holidays and festivals. Prosecco or Spumante is customary for New Year’s Eve celebrations, while Colomba di Pasqua, an Easter Dove, is a traditional Easter wine.

Christmas time sees Italians sipping on Vin Brulé, a delicious mulled wine, to keep warm during the chilly winter evenings. The regional festivals, too, have their own traditional beverages, showcasing the diversity and richness of Italian drinking culture.

In summary, Italy’s drinks are as diverse and rich as its culture. Each region, each city, and even each family, has its own special drink, its own way of making it, and its own tradition of enjoying it. Understanding and appreciating this diversity is a journey through the country’s history, traditions, and lifestyle.

Whether it’s a simple espresso or a sophisticated Negroni, there’s an Italian drink for every palate, every mood, and every occasion.

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