Going To A Bar In Italy Can Be A Vastly Different Experience From The US

Visiting restaurants, bars, and coffee spots will give you a sense of what dining in another country is really like. As one might assume, these spots each have their own aesthetic, along with unique menus and atmospheres. Yet, while you might expect a degree of variation from what you're accustomed to at home, you'll likely experience some cultural shock when learning that a bar in Italy isn't what you expect it to be.

Simply put, Italian bars are like cafes. Some can be quite fancy in the case of historic locales. Others are more basic like the bars that dot street corners every few yards. Nevertheless, these establishments are first and foremost coffee shops. They sell espresso and pastries, in addition to sandwiches, snacks, and soft drinks. The beauty of an Italian bar, however, is that it's licensed to sell alcohol. So, don't hesitate to ask for a caffè corretto — they've got the goods, after all.

Despite the fact that bars will serve you Campari soda or wine if you ask, that isn't really their main purpose. Instead, the bar functions as a meeting place. Patrons young and old can stop by and chat with pals, catch the final minutes of the soccer game, or play a round of cards. Passersby can also run a few errands as bars often dual as tabaccherias, selling cigarettes, bus passes, stamps, and lottery tickets. A one-stop shop, an Italian bar provides a space to socialize and then some, dawn 'til dusk.

Where to sip something spiked in Italy

Although Italian bars are able (and willing!) to serve patrons an array of tipples, for dedicated establishments that specialize in serving alcoholic beverages, keep your eyes peeled for certain keywords. The nomenclature may be vast, but with each term comes a clear idea of what you can expect to find. For instance, an enoteca might be the place for you if you're interested in enjoying a glass of wine and perhaps a grazing board of salumi and cheeses. Beer lovers should instead check out a birreria. Sometimes also called a pub, these establishments typically sling brews along with burgers and fried finger foods. Otherwise, there are also dedicated cocktail bars and lounges where you can sip signature and classic cocktails alike.

Whether you end up at a cafe-style bar or a cocktail-style bar, there are a few things that you can always expect to experience such as paying a coperto or a fee to sit. Much like at a bar, you probably won't be rushed while imbibing at an enoteca, birreria, or cocktail bar, either— just don't forget that you're in charge of asking for the check when you're ready to pay. Beyond their differing vibes, you mind find that these iterations of what a bar can be aren't all that different. But, we'll let you discover that when you have the chance to explore Italy for yourself!