There is something about Italy. The architecture, the beaches, the history, the language, the food and the drinks. Everything in Italy has more flavor, more color and more intensity, while at the same time life is laid back and easy going. The Italians, the landscape and the products are so distinctive – it’s like nowhere else on earth.
Each region of the country is different from other regions. The food is different from north to south, the coastline is different, and the drinks are different. Italian drinks, like everything else in the country, are unique, rich in flavor and always classy. To truly enjoy an authentic Italian drink, you have to go to the heart of where it was made. So, to get the most out of your Italian drinks, here are eight delicious Italian drinks and the best cities to try them.
1. Castello Di Radda Chianti Classico, Red Wine
Radda, located in Tuscany, may be a town and not a city, but what it lacks in size and status it makes up for in beauty and character. This is where you will find the Castello di Radda winery, and for that alone it is worth a visit. Tasting wine in the cellar where it is made is undoubtedly the best way to taste any drink. Radda Chianti Classico Castle is a rich, fruity, dry red wine that tastes best in its hometown, but just as good wherever you drink it.
There is a wine bar in Radda called Bar Ucci which is run by a former winery worker, and his expertise and passion really shows. It is housed in an old barn and is truly one of the most magical little places to drink this exceptional red wine. If you want to participate in a wine tasting at the winery, you can book a private tour or, of course, you can buy a bottle of this mature red wine and enjoy it wherever you want.
2. Select Appetizer
Made in Venice since 1920, Select is an appetizer that uses juniper berries and rhubarb roots to give it its characteristic bittersweet flavor. It is best enjoyed as a spritz cocktail due to its intense flavor if tried neat. Italian spritz cocktails have been the drink to drink this summer, and there’s no better place to drink them than in Italy. The Select spritz is a simple yet refreshing cocktail of Select, sparkling water and prosecco.
While in other parts of Italy an Aperol spritz and a Campari spritz are on the menu, in Venice the Select spritz has its home. The spritz select is a real taste of summer. It even looks summery. It’s complex and interesting. It’s fruity and sweet, but the prosecco and sparkling water are a must to eliminate the bitterness. It’s a bit of everything, which is probably why it’s so popular.
3. Francone Magia, White Wine
The Roero region of Italy may not have bustling big towns, but what it does have is beautiful rolling countryside and acres of vineyards. This is Italy’s wine region and most of the small village communities are surrounded by vineyards.
One of those small communities is Castagnito, and that’s where Francone Magic is produced. It’s hard to overstate how beautiful it is here, and if you like wine, it’s heaven. This region is famous for its wine and for its truffles, and you can join a winery and vineyard tasting tour as well as a truffle hunting expedition.
But if you are looking for more city atmosphere, it is very quiet here. However, just a 2 minute drive from Castagnito will take you to Alba, where you will find restaurants and wine bars to enjoy a drink or two. Francone Magi wine is richer and tastier than most white wines from this region. Wherever you enjoy it, it’s a surprising and memorable wine.
4. Portofino Gin
Made in the fishing village of Portofino, the pretty little place of Portofino Ginis undoubtedly the best place to taste this Mediterranean gin. But Portofino is so close to the port city of Genoa that you can bask in the seaside bars and restaurants that serve this playful drink in addition to – or instead of – drinking it in the fishing village.
Portofino is a new gin, launched only in 2019, but it has an old soul. It has a taste of lemon trees and a special sunny feeling. It’s as if they’ve captured the true tastes of Italy and bottled them into a gin. Order a Portofino gin with a Mediterranean tonic and a slice of lemon, and watch life in Genoa go by. Or grab a bottle and enjoy a Portofino gin wherever you like.
Even before you’ve tasted the gin, the bottle is pure Italy – one of the finest bottles of gin you’ll ever come across.
A sweet cherry liqueur produced in Turin, Stambecco is made for the mountains. It is even named with the mountains in mind. Stambecco is the name of a mountain goat found in this region, although it is unclear if there is a connection between the two. The drink was originally served neat to aid digestion, as many aperitifs were, more like a medicine than a drink to savor. Of course, that was appreciated.
It then became popular with skiers coming from their day on the slopes. Served neat, it’s quite intense, so I imagine those skiers enjoying its warming properties as well as its ability to help them relax and unwind. You can order it as a spritz today, but it’s best served in a Manhattan or a “Stamhattan”. A Stamhattan is made with two parts Stambecco, one part whiskey, a dash of bitters and orange zest to garnish. This makes a simple yet amazing cocktail. Sit back and relax in a piazza in Turin while grand architecture looms all around you, and enjoy a little taste of the mountains with a Stambecco cocktail.
6. Wine L’Occhiolino
Its name means “the wink” in Italian, and this lightly sparkling red wine is definitely something of a wink. It is served chilled, which is unusual for a red, but not unheard of. Perhaps because of the heat of the city where it is produced, Bologna, this wine was created to be enjoyed during a long lunch in the sun. It’s only 7.5% alcohol, so it’s perfect for lunch or early evening. The Occhiolino has been a well-kept secret in Italy, using some of the oldest grapes in the country.
Although the most popular in Bologna, its reputation is spreading. Bologna is still the best place to enjoy it, and you’ll find it flows easily at lunchtime in the city. If you’ve never tried a fresh, bubbly red before, this is the perfect introduction as it’s light and refreshing. If you’re already familiar with sparkling reds, make yourself comfortable in Bologna and enjoy a glass of the wink in the city that is its home.
The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is famous for its lemon trees and for its limoncello. This tangy liquor is regularly served in shot glasses at the end of a meal, and in Positano they claim the sweet syrupy drink as their own. Nobody knows exactly where limoncello comes from – some say right here in Positano, others say in Sicily, where they also like to call it their own – but one thing is certain: in Positano they make a nasty spritz of Limoncello.
At this point, it might seem like Italians can make a spritz with anything, but the limoncello spritz makes a lot of sense. Limoncello is nice to drink on its own, but on a hot day with the sea next to you, a lemony spritz with ice is divine. For incredible views while you sip your spritz, head to The Trident rooftop terrace cocktail bar. The terrace bar overlooking the bay and the famous hillside buildings of Positano feels traditionally Italian and could easily come from a 1950s movie. There’s no better place to sip a limoncello.
The now world-famous negroni began its journey in Florence. This simple cocktail of equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth can now be found on every cocktail menu in every cocktail bar you walk into, but where better to drink it than in the city where it was born? For a unique negroni experience, seek out the Angel roof bar at the Hotel Calimala in Florence.
With spectacular city views and a negroni in hand, you’ll have an authentic Florence experience. This garden patio is beautifully designed with its garden displays of flora and fauna, and it offers a 360 degree view of Florence. Florence is a beautiful city, full of intricate architecture and historic art, but if there’s one thing you have to do while you’re there, it’s drink negronis.
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