A liquor made of alcohol, lemon peels, and sugar. limoncello can be considered a "moonshine" type of product although usually made with legally obtained alcohol as every italian family, especially in the middle-south near napoli and southern part of the country, has its own recipe for limoncello. because lemon trees adapt so well to the mediterreanean climate, and they produce a large amount of fruit continually throughout their long fruit-bearing season, it is not unusual to find many villa's yards filled with lemon trees bending under the weight of their crop. you can make a lot of lemonade, or better yet, brew your own limoncello. it is mainly considered a dessert liquor, served after a heavy meal similar to amaretto, and used for different celebrations. the taste can be compared to a very strong and slightly thick lemonade flavor with an alcohol tinge to it. best served chilled in the freezer in small glasses that have been in the freezer. it is better sipped than treated as a shooter.
Limoncello and grappa and other similar drinks are usually served after a meal as an aid to digestion. If you are a good customer restaurants will offer a drink to you free of charge, and may even leave the bottle on your table for you to help yourself. Beware that these are very strong drinks.
Bars, like restaurants, are non-smoking.
Italians enjoy going out during the evenings, so it's common to have a drink in a bar before dinner. It is called aperitivo.Within the last couple years, started by Milan, a lot of bars have started offering fixed-price cocktails at aperitivo hours 18 - 21 with a free, and often a very good, buffet meal. It's now widely considered stylish to have this kind of aperitivo called Happy Hour instead of a structured meal before going out to dance or whatever.
While safe to drink, the tap water in some parts of Italy e.g. Sardinia, or parts of the South can be cloudy with a slight off taste. Some Italians prefer bottled water, which is served in restaurants; make sure you let the waiter/waitress know you want regular water acqua naturale or else you could get water with either natural gas or with added carbonation frizzante.
Rome, in particular, has exceptional pride in the quality of its water. This goes right back to the building of aqueducts channeling pure mountain water to every citizen during Roman times. Don't waste plastic bottles! You can refill your drinking containers and bottles at any of the constant running taps and fountains dotted around the city, safe in the knowledge that you are getting excellent quality cool spring water - try it!
Although wine is a traditional product, beer is very common as well. Beer did not quite belong to the Italian tradition in the way that wine does, but in the last 30-odd years there has been an explosion of Irish-style pubs in every big town, with usually a huge selection of any kind of beer, ale, stout and cider, from every country in the world.Major Italian beers include Peroni and Moretti and these are usually the ones offered by cafés. If you are serious about beer drinking, there are many bars that specialise in serving a wide range of bottled beers see city articles for more details, as well as Irish pubs and similar establishments. There is an increasing number of micro-breweries around the country. They often are run by local beer enthusiasts turned brewers, running small breweries with a pub attached. Their association is called Unionbirrai (http://www.unionbirrai.com/).
In the Trieste region it is far more common to drink Slovenian beers and the most popular brands are 'Union' and 'Zlatorag'.
Bars in Italy offer an enormous number of possible permutations for a way of having a cup of coffee. What you won’t get, however, is 100 different types of bean; nor will you find “gourmet” coffees. If you like that kind of stuff, better take your own. A bar will make coffee from a commercial blend of beans supplied by just one roaster. There are many companies who supply roast beans and the brand used is usually prominently displayed both inside and outside of the bar.
There are various kinds of coffee, the most popular of which are:
Caffè known to foreign tourists as "espresso". This is the basic kind of coffee, which is normally consumed at breakfast or after a meal.
Caffè ristretto. This has the same amount of coffee, but less water, thus making it stronger.
Caffè lungo. Like ordinary coffee, but additional water is allowed to go through the coffee beans in the machine.
Caffè americano. This has much more water and is served in a cappuccino cup. It is more like an American breakfast coffee but the quantity is still far less than you would get in the States.
So far so good. But here the permutations begin. For the same price as a normal coffee, you can ask for a dash of milk to be added to any of the above. This is called macchiato. Hence, caffè lungo macchiato or caffè americano macchiato. But that dash of milk can be either hot caldo or cold freddo. So you can ask, without the barman batting an eye, for a caffè lungo macchiato freddo or a caffè americano macchiato caldo. Any one of these options can also be had decaffeinated. Ask for caffè decaffeinato; The most popular brand is HAG and it is quite usual to ask for caffè HAG even if the bar does not use that particular brand.
If you are really in need of a pick-me-up you can ask for a double dose of coffee, or a doppio. You have to specify this when you pay at the cash register and it costs twice as much as a normal coffee. All the above permutations still apply, although a caffè doppio ristretto may be a bit strange.
Additionally, if you need a shot of alcohol, you can ask for a caffè corretto. This usually involves adding grappa, brandy or sambuca; "corrected" being the Italian expression corresponding to "spiked". Normally it is only a plain coffee that is corrected but there is no reason why you should not correct any of the above combinations.
Then there are coffee drinks with milk, as follows:
Cappuccino. Needs no introduction. If you don’t like the froth you can ask for cappuccino senza schiuma.
Caffè latte. Often served in a glass, this is a small amount of coffee with the cup/glass filled up with hot milk.
Latte macchiato. This is a glass of milk with a dash of coffee in the top. The milk can be hot or cold.
Note: latte is the Italian word for milk. If you ask for one, what you'll be getting is a glass of milk... and a perplexed look.
Finally, in the summer you can have caffè freddo, which is basically plain coffee with ice, "caffè freddo shakerato" shaked ice coffee or cappuccino freddo, which is a cold milky coffee without the froth. This list is by no means exhaustive. With a vivid imagination and a desire to experiment you should be able to find many more permutations. Enjoy!
Italian wine is exported all over the world, and names like Barolo, Brunello and Chianti are well-known. In Italy wine is a substantial topic, a sort of test which can ensure either respect or lack of attention from an entire restaurant staff. Doing your homework ensures that you will get better service, better wine and in the end may even pay less.
DOC, DOCG, IGT?The Denominazione di origine controllata certificate restricts above all the grape blend allowed for the wine, and in itself it is not yet a guarantee of quality. The same applies to the stricter Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita. These two denominations are indications of a traditional wine typical of the region, such as Chianti, and often a good partner for local food. But some of the best Italian wines are labeled with the less strict Indicazione geografica tipica designation, often a sign of a more modern, "international" wine.
So before reaching Italy, try to learn a little about the most important wines of the region you are planning to visit. This will greatly increase you enjoyment. Italian cuisine varies greatly from region to region sometimes also from town to town, and wine reflects this variety. Italians have a long tradition of matching wines with dishes and often every dish has an appropriate wine. The popular "color rule" red wines with meat dishes, white wines with fish can be happily broken when proposed by a sommelier or when you really know what you are doing: Italy has many strong white wines to serve with meat a Sicilian or Tuscan chardonnay, as well as delicate red wines for fish perhaps an Alto Adige pinot noir.
Unlike in the UK, for example, the price mark-ups charged by restaurants for wines on their wine list are not usually excessive, giving you a chance to experiment. In the big cities, there are also many wine bars, where you can taste different wines by the glass, at the same time as eating some delicious snacks. Unlike in many other countries it is unusual for restaurants to serve wine by the glass.
The vino della casa house wine can be an excellent drinking opportunity in small villages far from towns especially in Tuscany, where it could be what the patron would really personally drink or could even be the restaurant's own product. It tends to be a safe choice in decent restaurants in cities as well. Vino della casa may come bottled but in lower-priced restaurants it is still just as likely to be available in a carafe of one quarter, one half or one litre. As a general rule, if the restaurant seems honest and not too geared for tourists, the house wine is usually not too bad. That said, some house wines can be dreadful and give you a nasty headache the next morning. If it doesn't taste too good it probably won't do you much good, so send it back and order from the wine list.
Italians are justly proud of their wines and foreign wines are rarely served, but many foreign grapes like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are increasingly being used.