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Drinking in Italy

martini at quaddri cafe Venice

Scenic vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria, gurgling fountains of cold, clear water in Rome and Venice, but there is more to drink than wine and water! Here is the Tour Italy Now guide to drinking in Italy.


The water you see in fountains is almost always safe to drink.  Only if you see a sign stating “aqua non potabile” is it not safe to drink.  In Rome you will see small fountains all over the historic center.  There are over 2500 of these Nasone fountains, named for the large rounded spout.  To drink like the Romans, find the small hole on the spout and then block the large opening with your hand and a perfect stream of water will flow, creating a drinking fountain.  You can refill your water bottle with this free water and save some euros too.

At restaurants and bars you will be served bottled water. You can ask for tap water Acqua di Rubinetto, but bottled water is the norm.

Each region has their own spring and mineral waters. Bottled water comes fizzy and still. If you would like bubbles, ask for gassata or frizzante.  If you prefer still water ask for normale or lisca.


With Italy producing more wine than any other country in the world, you are spoiled for choice.  You have crisp alpine whites, bold southern reds, a small but growing rose selection and our favorite, the sparkling prosecco and franciacorta.

Vino Sfuso, once considered to be inferior wine, this wine on tap is a ggreat way to try a local wine and not break the bank.  Look for Vino Sfuso stand in markets and food stores.

Enoteche are wine shops that sell wine and often have a few tables for a light meal.  You can order wines by the glass and buy bottles to take home.

At restaurants try the Vino della Casa.  It might be a wine that bottled just for them or it could be vino sfuso.  It is a great way to try the wines from the region you are visiting.


The past few years have seen a craft beer explosion in Italy.  Micro-brews and artisanal beers are popping up all over the country.  There are currently more than 430 microbreweries operating in Italy, and the number just keeps growing. Look for “birra artigianale” for small batch, often unfiltered and unpasteurized brews.  You can find it sold like wine in large bottles or alla spina – draft.  In Rome, check out Open Baladin for a vast selection.  If you are in a city with an Eataly, you can taste craft beers brewed on site. 


Yes, you can find Coke and Sprite pretty much everywhere in Italy, but where is the fun in that?  Try some of the Italian versions of sweet, fizzy refreshment.

Some of our favorites to hunt down are chinotto, a slightly bitter soda made from the juice of the fruit of the myrtle-leaved orange tree.

Gassosa is Italy’s answer to Sprite, sweet and bubbly,  it’s a childhood favorite.

Old fashioned, Spuma, has an orangy color and a slight ginger-ale taste.

Cedrata is made from the gigantic citrus fruits you may have seen along the Amafli Coast.  It is sweet and lemony.


A traditional Italian aperitivo is usually a flute of prosecco or maybe a Campari and soda or a Spritz, but there is a  burgeoning cocktail scene in Italy’s big cities.

A new gin bar in has just opened in Rome, with over 50 types of gins, this is the place to come for a refreshing and perfectly crafted gin & tonic.

In Venice, at the elegant Caffe Quadri on the Piazza San Marco, Max Alajmo has created some special cocktails for the 55th InternationalArt Biennale.

The Atrium Bar at the Four Seasons in Florence has a resident mixologist who makes a perfect martini or if you skipped dessert, a tiramusu cocktail.


You have probably ended a summer meal with an icy cold class of sharp, sweet limoncello.  That is just the beginning of the choices you have to end your Italian meal.  There are digestivo or amaro’s which are all said to help you digest your meal.  Some are sweet, like Amaro Averno and Vecchio Amaro del Capo some are bitter, like Cynar and some are almost medicinal, like Fernet-Branca.  If you are lucky you will be offered some that are homemade.

For more on touring vineyards in Italy here and drinking coffee in Italy here.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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