As part of my summer travels for work, I found myself in Italy for 3 weeks. Of course I had fantastic wine and fabulous food, but I also decided to count how many cities in which I drank an Aperol Spritz. It almost needs no introduction these days, as the Aperol Spritz is known far and wide and is essentially de rigeur among aperitivo-seekers in Italy. Briefly, it is a prosecco/Aperol/sparkling water cocktail that is served over ice in a wine glass with an orange-slice garnish. The ratio – at least according to the Aperol label – is 3:2:1. But, you do as you like. Clearly no two places had the same ratio, and possibly no two bartenders, either.
Here is where I drank a Spritz, this summer, in Italy…
1) Nettuno, Lazio
Where: A small bar on the lungomare, overlooking the sea. This Spritz was probably the heaviest on the Aperol of any that I had. Tasty, but a little too heavy. The bartenders were very friendly, and the snacks were ample: chips, nuts, and olives!
Why: I stayed in Nettuno specifically to visit the Casale del Giglio Winery; they have wonderful wine – including an unusual Bellone – and there is an active archaeological dig in the vineyards!
2) Anzio, Lazio
Where: A resto/bar on the lungomare, overlooking a marina. This Spritz was lighter on the Aperol, strong on the Prosecco. In fact, I got a little tipsy from one (though I had walked about 4 miles in hot sun…). This place had friendly staff and chips, olives, and fennel as snacks.
Why: The Caves of Nero! On the Sea! I only managed to look at the beach, but the view was stunning and I nominate the Caves of Nero for the “best use of archaeological ruins”. They provided nooks for sunning and spots for kids’ playing.
3) Ostia, Lazio
Where: A rooftop resto/bar on Via Coilio. This Spritz had more Aperol than I like, and less Prosecco than it needed. Service was not stellar, and snacks only consisted of chips.
Why: Ostia Antica, of course. The site, ancient Rome’s seaport, has amazingly well-preserved architecture and decoration, including streets lined with baths, public buildings, a theatre, houses, and tombs. Expect to spend at least a few hours, and TAKE WATER!
4) Rome, Lazio
Where: The bar at the American School in Rome. I failed to take a photo, but here is the view from Piazza Garibaldi, instead 😉 This was an excellent Spritz – impeccable in its proportions. So, too, is the very proper bar at the American School.
Why: For the memorial mass of a very dear man, at San Marcello al Corso. The church, itself, is beautiful. Travel tip: tourists do not always belong inside of “sites”; use a little sense.
5) Orbetello, Tuscany
Where: Tuscany Bay, on the beach. This is a good, solid Spritz. Tuscany Bay heralds its Aperitivo with a live sax player (riffing to a dj’s ambient and electronica). But, on one occasion half of my chips were stale, and it is pricey: €10
Why: The beaches on the Gianella (the northern spit of land linking Monte Argentario and the mainland) are calm, pretty, and accessible. Sunsets are beautiful, and it is simple to grab a seaside table for aperitivo or dinner. Pro tip: The beach, bar, and restaurant at Il Tramonto are better values than Tuscany Bay.
6) Albinia, Tuscany
Where: A small pastry shop on Via Maremmana. This is an old-fashioned and excellent pastry shop and bar. The outdoor patio fills with Aperitivo seekers in the evening – often including myself and my colleagues. Their Spritz is beautifully balanced – generally leaving me wanting another. Snacks are good: chips, nuts, olives, crackers.
Why: Our lodgings are not in pricey Ansedonia, but just past Albinia. We fulfill many of our needs here, and the pastry shop is across the street from the hardware store – good for wheelbarrow wheels, soldering wire, and the like.
7) Ansedonia, Tuscany
Where: Antico Botteghino di Ansedonia! This is our go-to resto/bar after a days work, or to entertain a visiting guest for dinner. Management is friendly, and the Spritz (and all cocktails) are well-made and ample. “Ample” also describes the snacks, which really are proper stuzzichini. Our latest visit brought the usual chips and nuts, plus fried pizza-dough – with prosciutto to wrap it in. Dinners here are also quite good – there is much well-prepared seafood – and the wine list is nice; we found a reserve Bellone from my Lazio favorite, Casale del Giglio.
Why: The purpose of my June in Italy is to analyze the animal bones excavated from the Roman site of Cosa. Cosa, itself, is located on a promontory over the Tyrrhennian Sea, in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma. The Botteghino is at the foot of the hill upon which the Cosa excavations are set. It is wonderful in every way.
8) Lucca, Tuscany
Where: A large bar/resto in Piazzo San Michele. The piazza is lively and pretty and, if a bird poops on your head as one did on mine, there are numerous cafes to sit, grab a napkin, clean up, and have a drink. The Spritz was a bit Aperol-heavy, but nonetheless a great match for salty olives, chips, and nuts. Friendly, but quite touristy.
Why: A friend’s daughter, Sofia, suggested I would love Lucca. I did. Though beautiful and full of tourists, it manages to be a healthy, “living” city with as many services oriented to locals as to visitors. Modern-art installations share the viewscape with old buildings and walls.
9) Fiumicino, Lazio
Where: A small cafe on Viale Traiano. This was another, Aperol-heavy Spritz, though the Prosecco was noticeable. We definitely left a little more light-headed than when we arrived. Light snacks.
Why: For morning flights out of FCO, Fiumicino is a great, overnight option. It is minutes from the airport and has great restaurants with fresh fish from the working port. There are nearly as many gelato shops as cafes, and we always seem to be there for a festival in the marina. Our meal at the Ristorante Miranda was heavenly.
Where do you get your Spritz? Let us know – Cheers!